Since COVID-19 vaccines first became available, Publix has played a major role in tackling the public health emergency in Florida by offering vaccines to adults and later children as young as 5 years old.
But the grocery store in Lakeland says it will not offer the vaccine approved to children ages 4 and under “at present.”
Spokeswoman Hannah Herring said Tuesday that Publix will not release a statement explaining its decision. The company’s website states that it still accepts COVID-19 vaccine agreements for children aged 5 and up.
The company still offers other things childhood vaccinationsincluding influenza vaccination for babies as young as 6 months.
The rollout of vaccine to the nation’s youngest children has been complicated in Florida, where state leaders have questioned the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, contrary to the recommendations of the nation’s top health authorities and medical associations.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo advised against giving vaccines for healthy children, in violation of the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida var only state in the nation not to pre-order doses of under 5 vaccine, which the White House said could delay delivery to doctors in the state. Parents of children under 18 months must rely on pediatricians, medical clinics and children’s hospitals to get their children vaccinated.
Publix is not affected because it is enrolled in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which means it orders vaccine doses directly from the federal government.
The governor used Publix to become an important part of Florida’s vaccine rollout in early 2021. In the month of April, the grocery chain was the largest single vaccine supplier in Florida and got almost a quarter of state doses.
The company is Florida’s largest private employer and a regular donor to political campaigns by both major political parties, though its donations distort Republicans. It donated $ 100,000 to Governor Ron DeSantis’ political committee in early 2021.
Publix’s decision not to vaccinate young children puts it at odds with Walmart, one of its biggest competitors in the Southeast. Walmart plans to provide vaccines to children ages 3 and older.
“While we anticipate that the majority of these vaccines will be distributed to pediatric providers, we plan to administer authorized vaccines for ages 3-5 as delivery and distribution allow,” Walmart spokesman Tyler Thomason said in an email. .
South Tampa mother of two Samantha Thompson was able to order a vaccination appointment for her 3-year-old son at her local Publix on Tuesday. Then she received a phone call informing her that her chosen place was not authorized to vaccinate children under 5 years of age.
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Now she will have to cross the bay next week to vaccinate her son at a Walgreens in Seminole, which she said was the closest deal she could find.
“It’s frustrating because there’s so much confusion,” Thompson said. “Throughout this process, it feels as if our interests are not being taken care of.”
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How to get tested
Florida: The National Board of Health has a list of test sites.
Nations: That US Department of Health and Human Services can help you find a test site.
• • •
How to get vaccinated
The COVID-19 vaccine is administered in clinics, doctors’ offices, public health offices and retail pharmacies. To find a site near you:
Find a website: Visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination pages in your zip code.
More help: Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline.
Telephone: 800-232-0233. Help is available in English, Spanish and other languages.
Disability information and access line: Call 888-677-1199 or email [email protected].
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SYMPTOMS: Do you think you might have COVID-19? Here is another guide symptoms and treatments.
CHILDREN: Babies and toddlers can now be vaccinated. Here are the answers to your questions.
WARNING: How the CDC’s COVID-19 warning system fails Tampa Bay and Florida.
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