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Where to find the COVID-19 vaccine for your toddler in Tampa Bay

A young girl sits on a woman's lap and receives a shot in her left arm from a nurse. All three wear masks, the girl has a ribbon in her hair and holds a star shaped balloon.
Mary Altaffer
/
AP
Shivani Agarwal, left, holds her daughter Kiran, 3, as registered nurse Margie Rodriguez administers the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years old, Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at Montefiore Medical Group in the Bronx borough of New York.

About 18 million children under 5 nationwide are eligible for the shots.

COVID-19 vaccines for children, ages 6 months to 5 years old, have started rolling out across the country.

But parents looking for shots in Florida may have a hard time finding them.

Florida is the only state not ordering its doses through the federal government and handling distribution like the rest of the country. That's forcing retail pharmacies, doctors offices, hospitals and community health centers to order them directly from the feds.

Dr. Joseph Perno, vice president of medical affairs at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, said he is more concerned about the mixed messaging coming from Tallahassee than a shortage of the vaccine.

“The fact that we're getting the vaccine as early as today, I don't think it had a major impact,” he said. “I'm more worried about just the message it sends to our families in the state that the state doesn't seem to be as behind the vaccine as most health care providers are for this age group.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer last week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its final approval over the weekend.

About 18 million children under 5 nationwide are eligible for the shots.

Moderna's vaccine for that group is two shots about four weeks apart. Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine — a three-dose series of shots — is set for 6-month-olds to 4-year-olds, set over about 12 weeks.

Perno said they received their first shipment of Moderna doses Tuesday.

He recommends that parents looking for the shot should start with their children's pediatrician.

"The first step I would tell parents is, you know, reach out to your pediatrician, see if they're offering the vaccine,” he said. “If not, (check) with the major pharmacy chains, and (check) with local health departments, those would be the best ways to try to figure out where it's at right now."

Some pharmacies are asking that parents contact a pediatrician to schedule a vaccine appointment for children under the age of 3.

Publix and Costco are not currently offering COVID-19 vaccinations for children under 5 years old.

Some Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in Florida may receive the vaccine for this age group. You can search for one near you here and should call to find out if doses are available.

Jack Prator is the WUSF Rush Family Radio News intern for summer of 2022.
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