Florida-based grocery chain Publix drew a hard line Tuesday on COVID vaccines for children under the age of five, saying that their pharmacies would not administer the shots to children under five despite the recent Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs).
According to a report published Wednesday afternoon in the Tampa Bay Times, spokesperson Hannah Herring said that the chain would not provide COVID vaccines to children four-years-old and younger, and added that the company did not plan to offer any explanation.
When the vaccines were first rolled out in late 2020 and early 2021, Publix partnered with the Florida state government to maximize the efficiency of the distribution efforts – and the chain still offers the COVID vaccine to customers aged five and above.
The move from Publix aligns with the position taken by Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) when the EUAs for children under five were first announced. While DeSantis did not — as some reported — bar private health care providers from ordering doses of the vaccine for younger children, he also did not authorize the state and local health departments to offer the vaccine to that age group.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo even called out the White House for suggesting that DeSantis had barred private providers from ordering doses, adding, “FL never ‘reversed course.’ We recommended against COVID-19 vax for healthy children in March b/c there was no strong evidence of benefit. This remains the same for healthy kids <5. Providers have always been able to order vaccines. This never changed.”
DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw also pushed back on the prevailing narrative, noting that the only reason some providers might have had difficulties preordering the vaccines was the fact that they could not place orders prior to the Emergency Use Authorization being granted.
“No state policy change in Florida. The only thing that’s changed was the federal government (FDA) issued the EUA for the shots today. Obviously, there must be FDA approval or an EUA for the system to process orders from healthcare providers. Retract your lies,” Pushaw said.
Based on the latest EUAs, COVID vaccines are now available for children aged 6 months to five years.