Since the COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for children under 5 last month, states have been able to pre-order doses directly from the federal government.
About 300,000 children between the ages of six months and four years received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This equates to about 1.5% of the approximately 19.5 million children in the United States who recently became eligible.
Despite the low numbers, states continue to order vaccines as they expect the number of infections to rise and confidence to build over time.
ABC News contacted all 50 state health departments between June 21 and July 7 to ask how many doses had been ordered for children under age 5 and received data from 41 of them.
Those states have ordered at least 3.09 million vaccine doses for the youngest age group to distribute to providers, hospitals, vaccination centers and more, according to the results.
This number does not include state retail pharmacies that have pre-ordered doses through the federal retail pharmacy program.
“Having millions of doses on discharge is incredibly helpful,” said Boston Children’s Hospital epidemiologist and ABC News contributor Dr. John Brownstein. ” It’s a good start. My hunch is that there is going to be an initial rush, like when doses became available for other age groups, and then some more stable access.
As of June 21, California — the most populous state — had ordered more than 400,000 doses of the vaccine, the state’s public health department told ABC News.
Of those doses, more than 221,000 doses are of the two-dose Moderna vaccine and 176,000 are of the three-dose Pfizer vaccine, the California DPH said.
The doses “can be administered at more than 8,500 vaccination sites statewide, with additional doses becoming available in the following weeks,” the DPH said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the state with the smallest population, Wyoming, has ordered the fewest doses at 3,700 as of June 30, state health officials told ABC News.
The state health department said 2,000 doses were of Pfizer’s vaccine and 1,700 were of Moderna’s vaccine.
Brownstein said it is extremely important for young children to get vaccinated because they are also susceptible to the severe effects of COVID-19.
“There has always been this opinion that for some reason adults are the hardest hit by COVID-19,” he said. “And while that may be proportionally true, children also suffer severe consequences, sometimes death, even long COVID.”
He added: “Giving our children that basic protection through vaccines is extremely important…especially as we approach fall.”
Florida is the only state in the United States that has not pre-ordered any COVID-19 vaccines for young children, federal officials told ABC News last month.
“The Florida Department of Health has made it clear to the federal government that states do not need to be involved in the convoluted vaccine distribution process, especially when the federal government has a history of policymaking. inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19,” a department spokesperson told ABC News in a statement.
Brownstein said he fears this will lead to disadvantaged groups who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 also having disproportionate access to vaccines.
“When states administer vaccines, they can optimize vaccination sites, making sure they’re available for low-income families, minority families,” he said. “Without that, high-income families will still be able to find time to take time off work and find vaccines for their children. Ultimately, what will happen is a lack of vaccine equity.
ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.