Distribution issues, lack of demand stalling COVID-19 vaccines for children across Florida

Doctors throughout Florida are throwing out many doses of COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 years old because of low vaccination rates and difficulty ordering adequate amounts.

Florida is the only state to not pre-order the vaccines for that age group. A shipment of arrived last month after some expected delays, but Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t instituted a state vaccination program, so it has become increasingly difficult for doctors to receive an adequate volume of supplies.

DeSantis has long opposed COVID-19 vaccination measures. He approved an executive order prohibiting businesses from requiring proof of vaccination for entry and signed a bill preventing private employers from instituting vaccine mandates.

A vial of the vaccine for children under 5 contains 10 doses which have to be used within 12 hours of opening. Once that time elapses, it has to be discarded. The Biden Administration’s current distribution plan ships the vaccines 100 doses at a time.

A statement on the Florida Department of Health’s website says the process for ordering this latest vaccine remains the same as with all other COVID-19 vaccines, but recommends against them, citing a lack of information.

“The Florida Department of Health does not recommend pediatric COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children,” the statement reads. “The currently available evidence on COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years is inadequate for assessing risks and benefits.”

Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky spoke favorably about the vaccine and its new availability in a statement released June 18.

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” Walensky said. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can. I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”

The Biden Administration’s plan for the under-5 vaccine involves shipping doses in large supplies, making distribution accessible through state and local health offices and other sites and launching an education campaign to inform families on the vaccine. The initial supply of the vaccine consists of 10 million doses distributed across the country.

Jose Alonso is currently majoring in digital journalism at Florida International University. Aside from journalism, he enjoys creative writing, literature, and history.