Florida pharmacies are discarding child COVID-19 shots because of state regulations

Some Florida physicians are tossing usable COVID-19 doses in the trash after Gov. Ron DeSantis failed to authorize state programs' to administer the vaccine to younger children, the Miami Herald reported June 27 — the latest setback to inoculating the state's 1.15 million children younger than 5.

Florida was the only state to not preorder vaccines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and the state health department won't promote the vaccine to parents, the Herald reported. Without an explanation, the 833 Publix locations in Florida are also forgoing vaccinating the youngest age group. 

Although limited, options still remain. Hospitals, pediatrician offices and pop-up clinics can directly order Pfizer's vaccine for 6-month- to 4-year-olds and Moderna's option for 6-month- to 5-year-olds. Also, companies such as CVS and Walgreens preordered the doses and have already dispensed them across the country, including Florida. 

The president of Florida's chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, Lisa Gwynn, MD, worried that the state's lack of support in vaccinating the age group can widen the gap in healthcare inequities, especially among vulnerable populations. 

"This is about equity and access," Dr. Gwynn, who is also a University of Miami pediatrician, told the Herald. "Now poor kids [younger than 5], who normally get their vaccines from places out in the community, such as the local health departments, will no longer have access that way."

The FDA and CDC authorized the two vaccine options for children 6 months to 5 years old June 17, with infants and children across the nation receiving their first jab June 21. The rollout has been spotty, though, as parents take the "wait and see" approach despite the expected COVID-19 surge to hit the U.S. this fall.


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