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Tallahassee parents scrambling to find COVID vaccines for youngest age group

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:31 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 7:19 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Some Tallahassee pediatricians and parents are struggling to find COVID-19 shots for young children.

The CDC cleared the vaccines for kids ages 6 months to 5 years old.

But Florida was the only state that did not preorder them.

As a result, they aren’t available at many doctors’ offices, and there’s varied access at pharmacies.

Tanya Tatum, the director of Florida A&M University’s Health Services, said for now, FAMU’s vaccine site will not be giving shots to kids younger than five.

Publix isn’t offering them for this age range either, and many other pharmacies say they won’t give shots to kids under a certain age.

“It’s been difficult,” Tallahassee mom Brittania Davidson said.

Davidson has been trying for the last week to get her two young kids vaccinated against COVID.

Her first stop was her local pediatrician.

“Couldn’t get a straight answer,” Davidson said. “I got ‘Call back in a week, call back in a month.’”

Next, Walgreens.

She got an appointment for her son, who is 4 years old.

“I was like ‘Great,’” Davidson said. “‘But now I need my daughter vaccinated.’”

Her daughter, who’s about to turn 2, wasn’t eligible.

Walgreens is only giving shots to kids who are older than 3.

Finally, she got an appointment at a CVS MinuteClinic for both her kids. CVS MinuteClinics are administering vaccines for kids 18 months and older.

“I literally cried when we got the appointment,” Davidson said. “It’s been a really long journey.”

But why was that journey so difficult?

In Florida, some pediatricians have struggled to get access to vaccines for this youngest age group.

“It has been a little harder this time,” said Russel Homan, a pediatrician with Canopy Pediatrics.

Local health departments in Florida will not be carrying the vaccine for kids under 5.

Pediatricians like Homan are having to order directly from suppliers, which requires them to purchase at least 100 doses.

For Homan, that’s just too much.

“We’re smaller,” he said. “I only have myself about 230 patients.”

So, he’s partnering with another pediatric office in town to share a smaller number of doses.

He’s inviting any parents who are searching for a COVID vaccine for their young kids to contact his office, even if they aren’t his patients, so that parents like Davidson, who have been waiting for these shots for months, can finally take a breath.

“It just felt like a big relief,” Davidson said. “A big breath, that we can finally breathe and maybe our lives can be almost completely normal again.”

Canopy Pediatrics will likely start administering vaccines for young kids starting next Tuesday.

Vaccines for this age group are also available at Bond Community Health.

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