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‘My Young Child Got the COVID-19 Vaccine—Here’s What the Experience Was Like’

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Photo: Stocksy/ ByLorena
Parents around the country celebrated in early November when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the COVID-19 vaccination green light to children between the ages of 5 and 11. Before this moment, only people aged 16 and up were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., leaving families with younger kids to rely on stricter measures to keep their children safe.

The White House announced on Wednesday that an estimated 900,000 children in this age group have already received their first round of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said during a press briefing that an additional 700,000 vaccination appointments have been scheduled at pharmacies across the county.

Not every parent is eager to get their child vaccinated, though: A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that about a third of parents (34 percent) say they will vaccinate their 5- to 11-year-old child "right away," while 32 percent say they'll "wait and see." About one in four (24 percent) say they definitely won't get their 5- to 11-year-old vaccinated against COVID-19.

The good news? Many parents who have opted to pursue getting the COVID-19 vaccine for children already say the experience has been largely positive.  You can read about their experiences below:

"Both kids said it hurt less than a flu shot"

Virginia mom Lauren, who asked that her last name be withheld for privacy reasons, said that her 8-year-old son and daughter did "great" when they received the COVID-19 vaccine through their local health department. "It was very quick and organized," she says. "The volunteers there were awesome, and both kids said it hurt less than a flu shot."

Lauren says her children are "excited about the idea of not having to wear masks as often after they're fully vaccinated." And, she adds, they "each got $10 to spend at Target, which definitely helped."

Ultimately, Lauren says there were "no symptoms for either, other than a sore arm for the rest of the day."

"I feel so much better now"

Delaware-based Marissa Levy Lerer is a mom to 8-year-old twins. She brought them to a vaccination clinic to get the shot, where she says the staff members were "lovely."

"I was worried there wouldn't be pediatric people there," she says, but Lerer says that the staffers "all seemed to be good with the kids." She also found that her children received support from other kids who were getting immunized, too. "The other kids there were so amazing and supportive," she says, noting that they told her daughter that the vaccine "didn't hurt at all."

Lerer says she's excited that her children will have at least one shot down before they go on vacation in a few weeks. "I just wanted to have a little bit of immunity before getting on a plane," she says. "I feel so much better now."

"The staff clapped for my kids"

Sarah, a mom in New York City who asked that her last name be withheld for privacy reasons, says she had a "very positive" experience getting her 5-year-old and 9-year-old vaccinated.

"We went to our pediatrician's office the day after the CDC gave the OK, and you could just feel how positive everyone was," she says. Sarah says her 9-year-old, usually afraid of vaccines, "took it like a champ" and even laughed about how easy it was afterward. Her 5-year-old did a few breathing exercises that the nurse recommended but was also "very brave," she says.

"When we left, the staff clapped for my kids in the hallway," Sarah says. "It made me tear up a little, and you could see that my children felt proud of themselves." Sarah says her kids felt "fine" afterward—only her 5-year-old said he had a slightly sore arm the next day.

"She felt some aches throughout the day, but nothing that would qualify as substantial"

Kansas dad Mike Vietti says he and his wife knew they wanted to get their 7-year-old vaccinated once the COVID-19 vaccine was available to her. Vietti works for a non-profit organization called Alphapointe, which offers rehabilitation services for people who are blind, and points out that many of the people his company serves are considered high risk for COVID-19. "My wife is an instructor at the University of Kansas and is in contact with students on a regular basis," he says. "Given these two positions where, generally speaking, both of us are at a higher exposure risk, it was important for us to help protect our child."

Vietti says he checked the websites of local pharmacies as soon as the CDC's announcement was made and found that appointments were booked for the next two to three weeks. But their county health department had available timeslots. "The process was incredibly easy as we completed a simple form, and we were in and out of the facility in less than 30 minutes, with 15 of those minutes being the mandatory waiting period following receiving the vaccine," he says.

"The nurse who delivered the vaccine was terrific," Vietti says. "She let my daughter choose which arm for the vaccine, and she made a few jokes that made my daughter feel very comfortable. She asked my daughter if she wanted to look away while she administered the shot and, to my surprise, my daughter said she wanted to watch." After the shot, the staff let Vietti's daughter choose a "special sticker," they waited for the requested 15 minutes, and then left. "Everything about the experience was stellar, and we couldn't be more happy with the approach," he says. Vietti says his daughter got the vaccine in the morning and returned to school for the rest of the day.

"Her arm was sore for the remainder of the day and into the following day," he says. "Additionally, she felt some aches throughout the day, but nothing that would qualify as substantial."

"The staff at the pharmacy were very friendly and told my son he was really brave"

Brodi Cole, creator of the family travel website Our Offbeat Life, is a mom living abroad with her 9-year-old son. "We decided to get him vaccinated ASAP because we are Americans living abroad and feel strongly about protecting the communities in which we live who may not have access to vaccines as we do," she says.

Cole says she bought tickets to the U.S. for her family, and they all stayed with a friend as soon as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for 5- to 11-year-olds. "When the CDC approved the vaccines, I booked an appointment at a pharmacy an hour from my friend's home because it was the closest we could get an appointment quickly," she says. "We had the second appointment of the day. Other than the pharmacy being late starting appointments for the day, our slot went smoothly. The staff at the pharmacy were very friendly and told my son he was really brave."

 

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