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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s Publix Super Markets will not offer the Covid-19 vaccine to young children despite an emergency-use authorization approved by the Food and Drug Administration last week.
The Florida-based chain, which stretches across seven states in the Southeast, confirmed this week that it would not offer doses to children between the ages of six months old and 5 years old but did not publicly explain its decision. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Publix, a frequent contributor to Republican political campaigns, during the height of the pandemic turned more than 700 of its Florida grocery stores into Covid vaccination sites under a deal with GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The grocery chain’s move comes as DeSantis and the White House have fought over accessing vaccinations for kids under 5 in the state. Florida was the only state in the nation not to pre-order childhood vaccinations in anticipation of the FDA approving childhood Covid-19 shots. Pediatricians and others in the medical community have said not pre-ordering the vaccine for young children will delay parents in the state from accessing shots for their children.
The White House also strongly criticized Florida’s decision not to pre-order vaccines, with White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha calling it a “failure” and “unconscionable.”
DeSantis however shot back at the Biden administration and accused it of lying.
DeSantis and Florida Surgeon General Joe Ladapo are adamantly opposed to giving the vaccine to young children. Ladapo is a well-known Covid-19 vaccine skeptic who has questioned its efficacy even as much of the medical community has emphasized its safe against protecting the virus and lessening serious symptoms.
DeSantis said earlier this week he was not sure if the vaccine has been through enough testing. He also began referring to the shots as MRNA vaccines, which are different from typical vaccines.