Despite FDA and CDC approval for children as young as six months old to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Florida families may have to wait a few more days to get an appointment for their young children.
“It is disheartening when it affects you directly," said Morgan Shane, a mother of two in Coral Gables. "We keep getting close and now it’s available and the thought we have to get up and travel to safely go about our summer is frustrating."
Shane can’t wait to get her 3-year-old son Eli protected with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine now that he’s eligible. But a failure to pre-order either of the vaccines by the state of Florida early last week has her hope on hold.
Morgan made several calls to get an appointment for her son at Miami-Dade pharmacies and received uncertain answers.
“We have to check with the pharmacist, we don’t have it yet, when we do we’ll get back to you, we haven’t opened up appointments yet. We’re not sure how we’re going to give them to that age group," Shane said. "A lot of questions because most kids under five get vaccines at their pediatrician’s office, this isn’t something local pharmacies have had to deal with."
Local pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, Publix and Walmart will likely be the fort to have the vaccines in hand within the next few days because they are part of a federal program.
Pediatricians' offices and hospitals had to order vaccines through the state, and Florida was the only state in the country that didn’t pre-order the doses before a federal deadline last week.
Infectious disease experts worry the back and forth will only confuse parents' decisions to get their young children vaccinated.
Many doctors assert that approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at protecting infants, toddlers and young children from severe illness, hospitalization and death due to the virus.
“There’s no question it benefits that child to be vaccinated against this horrible virus. It starts their protection nice and early and ultimately it’s good for the child and family of that child because one less person in the house that can get sick,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist with Florida International University.
“You look at kids that have been hospitalized and the vast majority were perfectly healthy kids and yet ended up in hospital and ICU. This age range of six months to four years old, we had 400+ deaths among mostly previously completely healthy children, so these children do need to be protected,” added Dr. Marty.
CVS released a statement Monday saying the pharmacy will begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for eligible children 18 months through four years of age at 1,100 MinuteClinic locations starting Tuesday “on a rolling basis as locations receive supply.”
But as of Monday afternoon, their South Florida locations weren’t showing available appointments for the vaccine for Tuesday or any day of the week.