Publix supermarket chain refuses to offer vaccines against Covid-19 to children under 5 years old

Federal authorities have finally expanded access to COVID-19 vaccines to children ages six months to five years, but the leading supermarket and pharmacy chain Publix will not offer vaccines to the nation’s youngest children in its more than 1,200 stores. In U.S.A.

The Florida-based chain said it will not administer vaccines to young children “at this time” but has not released a statement explaining its decision.

Florida has overseen a complicated rollout of vaccines for young children as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepare to expand access to vaccines more than a year later that they were widely available to adults.

State officials, including the state surgeon general, cast doubt on the efficacy of the vaccines and clashed with federal guidelines and the guidance of medical experts, among others.

Florida was also the only state not to mandate vaccinations for children under 5, which the White House warned could halt deliveries to medical providers in the state for those who wanted their children vaccinated.

But Publix is ​​enrolled in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which allows the retailer to order vaccines directly from the federal government instead of through a state program.

As vaccines became more widely available in April 2021, Publix was the largest vaccinator in the state, responsible for about a quarter of the doses administered in the state.

A political action committee affiliated with the retailer leans toward supporting Republican officials, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose campaign received tens of thousands of dollars from the chain. Trusts affiliated with the chain’s heirs have also donated large sums to the governor’s campaign.

Major pharmaceutical retailers Walgreens and Walmart have announced they will inoculate children ages 3 and up.

CVS pharmacies will administer vaccines to children 18 months of age and older.

Nearly 70 percent of the nation’s vaccine-eligible population has received both doses of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.

About 47 percent have received a third “booster” dose, and a quarter of people over 50 have received a second booster.

The recent endorsement of Covid-19 vaccines for children under 5 years of age expands eligibility to nearly 20 million children and “means that all Americans ages 6 months and older are now eligible for vaccination,” according to the CDC.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky encourages “parents and caregivers who have questions to talk to their local doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccines and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”

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