POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Lakeland-based supermarket chain Publix is not offering COVID-19 vaccines to a newly-eligible population.
8 On Your Side reached out to several spokespeople to find out why it is not available for that age group and did not hear back Thursday.
“I think if Publix wants to sort of be a part of the community – then this is one of the things that they take up, the things they champion. They don’t have to be out there advertising for it but to not offer it, I think, is a little unusual and a little sad,” said Geoffry Hall, a nurse practitioner at Central Florida Health Care.
Appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 and up are still available on Publix’s website.
According to vaccines.gov, several Walgreens in the Tampa Bay area will offer the shot to young children.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna and Pfizer shots for children 6 months to 5 years old last week. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended them for the age group over the weekend. Young children were able to start getting the vaccine this Monday.
Florida officials have taken a different stance on the vaccine for young kids than the federal government. Florida was the only state to not pre-order any of the vaccine from the federal government for state-operated programs. However, private practices and hospitals are allowed to order them.
Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo also offered conflicting advice from U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murth. Dr. Vivek recommended the vaccine for children 6 months and up, while Dr. Ladapo said there is “insufficient data to inform benefits and risks in children.”
Watson Clinic and Central Florida Health Care have ordered and are administering vaccines to kids under the age of 5.
“We always look at this in terms of risk vs. benefit. The data’s out, it’s pretty clear this is much more of a benefit than it could ever be a risk,” said Hall.