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Publix supermarkets not offering COVID vaccine to young kids

Publix supermarkets not offering COVID vaccine to young kids

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida-based Publix grocery store chain is not offering the COVID-19 vaccine to children younger than 5 but has not explained its decision.

The supermarket chain with 1,288 stores in seven Southern states was instrumental in distributing the vaccine when it was initially released. Its website indicates it is currently offering the vaccine to adults and children 5 and older.

The company told the Tampa Bay Times that Publix stores won’t offer the vaccine to young children “at this time.“ It did not explain the decision or return multiple messages or phone calls to The Associated Press on Thursday.

The company’s website shows it offers other vaccinations for babies as young as 6 months.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has recommended against vaccinating healthy children, despite U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that recommend the vaccines for everyone 6 months and older.

Florida considers children with underlying conditions that predispose them to severe cases of COVID-19 as candidates for the jabs. Federal policies make no distinction between healthy individuals and those with underlying conditions. The CDC says the vaccines prevent hospitalizations and deaths, and the benefits outweigh any risks.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said last week that the state was not preordering doses of the under-5 vaccine, making Florida the only state in the nation not to do so. Though medical providers and pediatricians can order vaccines directly from the federal government via a state online portal, the White House has said Florida’s failure to pre-order could delay delivery to medical providers in the state.

Republican lawmakers elsewhere also have questioned the release of the vaccine for young children.

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