Almost 17 million children nationwide qualify for the Pfizer vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fourteen-year-old Hector Knox was the first person to get vaccinated Thursday morning at Children’s National Hospital in D.C. For Hector, it's a shot of hope knowing he'll soon have the same level of protection as adults in the fight against COVID-19.
“I’m the last one to be, like, vaccinated in my family and I think that makes me feel a lot safer to know that I'm now vaccinated,” Hector said. “I’ll be able to travel more freely, interact with my friends more outside and in school.”
Children’s National Hospital is among the first organizations in the country to vaccinate children ages 12 to 15 after getting the green light from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration.
About 100 kids rolled up their sleeves for the Pfizer vaccine Thursday, including 15-year-old Sydney Lewis.
“It was a long and much-anticipated wait,” Tanisha Lewis, Sydney’s mother, said. “It’s all about returning to normal.”
Both of Sydney’s parents are vaccinated, and now it’s her chance to get the same dose and the same two-shot regimen as them.
The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.
“We’ve been waiting quite a while, and she’s been very anxious to get it as well,” Roger Lewis, Sydney’s dad, said.
Health experts said vaccinations are crucial for a safe return to school, summer camps and vacation travel.
“They have put their whole life on hold so that they can protect each other and the more vulnerable adults and their families and communities, and so today it’s their chance to feel safer and reengage with their community,” said Dr. Claire Boogaard, a pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital.
But across the country, many still remain hesitant.
“I’m a pediatrician. I’m also a mom of two kids, and it’s important that our safety, the safety of our kids are our primary goal, but we now have the scientific data and we have the clearance to use it,” Boogaard said.
In clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was 100% effective in protecting children from the coronavirus. Side effects were similar to what was reported by young adults, with the second dose packing a stronger punch.
The most common short-term side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, chills and fatigue.
Children’s National Hospital plans to vaccinate several thousand local children in the 12-to-15-year-old age group over the next few weeks, and they’re encouraging parents to pre-register online.
Walk-up clinics, pharmacies and pediatricians’ offices are also vaccinating kids all across the region.