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COVID-19 in Florida

Florida orders 90,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for young kids

OCPS opening vaccination sites

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Florida has ordered an initial supply of pediatric COVID-19 vaccines for young kids ages 5 to 11, but not every county health department has received the smaller vials yet.

In an email to the Florida Phoenix this week, the Florida Department of Health said that “over 90,000 doses” of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for kids ages were ordered from the federal government and “are expected to be delivered this week.”

“These vaccines will be offered at health care providers, most retail pharmacies, and county health departments, and is expected to be widely available in Florida this week,” FDOH said.

In the Tampa Bay area, the doses are now available to young children who get parental consent through the Department of Health in Hillsborough County, said spokesman Kevin Watler. A vaccine site in that county had launched Wednesday for kids to receive their first dose and parents aren’t required to schedule an appointment.

Watler added that pediatric vaccines are widely available at pharmacies, such as CVS and Publix, and shots are free.

“I can say so far the demand has not exceeded what community providers can handle,” Watler said in an email to the Phoenix on Thursday. “Most people can get appointments within a day or two at commercial pharmacies.”

Though certain school districts opened vaccine clinics on campuses earlier this week, some parents are hesitant to get their kids vaccinated.

According to its website, the Orange County Public School District is partnering with Health Hero Florida to offer vaccinations to students 5-11 years old. These are walk-up events open to all OCPS families as well as anyone who needs a vaccine or booster. Parents or guardians must accompany children and sign the Department of Health’s consent form. Children will receive the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, but all brands and boosters will also be available for others.

An updated Kaiser Family Foundation report on Oct. 28 found that only 27 percent “are eager to get a (COVID) vaccine” for their children ages 5 to 11, “while a third say they will wait awhile to see how the vaccine is working.” About 30 percent will not get the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the state health department said in an email that “health care providers are now able to order the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11” through a website called Florida Shots.

According to CDC’s website, data show that “vaccination was nearly 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 5-11 years.”

The doses for children ages 5 to 11 are different from vaccines approved for those 12 and older, as previously reported by the Phoenix. Smaller needles and doses are used for children below age 12.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. 

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