On the day he first qualified for a COVID-19 vaccine, 11-year-old Liam Pangilinanof Windsor was delighted.
“I’m very excited to go to my cousins in the US and meet them again,” he said, shortly before his meeting. “I missed going to parties with them and spending time with them.”
Liam’s parents, William Pangilinan and Holly Guevera, were ready and waiting for a chance to book an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine for their two eldest children, who were some of the first to be hit on Thursday.
“They talked about it even before they were allowed, asking when they could get it,” Pangilinan said.
“Our family is from Michigan, so we have not been able to see some of them,” Guevera said. “So when they found out they could get it, they were very excited.”
Liam’s younger brother, Lexington, 9, also went with his brother to get vaccinated. The boys were two of about 33,000 children in Windsor-Essex who were newly qualified to take the hit.
“I feel happy and not scared at all,” said Liam, whose younger brother was a little wary of being hit.
“I’m excited but nervous about the shock,” Lexington said.
Ten-year-old Jenna Smith from Amherstburg received her COVID-19 vaccine on the first day she was beaten. For him, it was a step towards returning to normalcy.
“I wanted to be able to go have fun and be a kid again,” she said.
The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11 were administered Thursday morning at the mass vaccination clinic in Devonshire Mall.
Smith said staff inside the clinic wore costumes of characters like Spider-Man, Cinderella and Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
“It was really interesting for all the kids, so they were not scared,” she said.
Eleven-year-old Oliver was the first person in that age group to be vaccinated Thursday morning, according to a social media post from Windsor Regional Hospital, which runs the vaccination site.
Others are eagerly awaiting their turn after 20 months of living in an epidemic that has changed their daily lives.
Colin Ruggaber, 9, is taking his hit on Sunday. He was born premature and has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, so his mother, Sheila, feels relieved she does not qualify.
Colin had been asking for his vaccine for months now, so his mother decided to record his reaction to the news that he would soon be getting his vaccine.
He expressed his emotions immediately; “Yes!”
Jenn and Nick Hennin have a date Saturday for their son Edwin, who is eight years old and has autism.
Edwin has thrived in a classroom setting, but that also comes with the potential for exposure to COVID-19. Jenn said she had thought about what would happen if he got sick, given his challenges.
Nick said he would feel better knowing that if their son is caught with COVID-19 after being vaccinated, the result is unlikely to be severe.
“That’s the biggest thing. Keep it as safe as possible,” Jenn said. “If he contracts him, we can fight him at home.”
Public health encourages vaccination
Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, the region’s acting medical officer, said the strike is safe, effective and evidence shows the benefits outweigh any risks.
“We would encourage everyone who has the right to vaccination to be vaccinated,” he said on Wednesday.
Health Canada gave the green product version of Pfizer in green almost a week ago and registration of appointments opened locally on Monday. Those turning five in 2021 are also eligible.
As of Thursday morning, several meeting places were available on Friday as well as early next week, though Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are currently full.
Public health unit officials said they have no concerns about the supply and expect to have enough to meet demand.
Children between the ages of five and 11 who are being vaccinated should be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
The families were not the only ones to come out on Thursday morning. Several protesters stood up near the scene.
Earlier this week, police said they would have officers present to “monitor and guarantee public safety”.
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