Children ages 5 to 11 begin receiving pediatric vaccines in the Midlands

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 11:24 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Children ages 5 to 11 began receiving their COVID-19 vaccines Thursday at clinics across the Midlands.

This comes after the CDC recommendation for this age group came earlier in the week. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, this means more than 436,000 children in South Carolina are now eligible for the two-dose series of the Pfizer shot.

Many parents still have questions about taking their children to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Some say they’re awaiting more research until they make a final decision. Others say vaccinating their children was a no-brainer.

For Meredith Gvozdas, getting two of her daughters vaccinated is another life-saving layer of protection for her family.

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Gvozdas’ daughters were among the first children ages 5 to 11 in the Midlands to receive the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have a four-year-old who just finished treatment for leukemia in September, so she still has a weakened immune system so we cannot afford for her to get sick or come in contact with any virus,” she said.

Two of Gvozdas’ daughters received their first dose at MUSC Health Midlands’ clinic in downtown Columbia, which was the first site up to administer pediatric vaccinations on Thursday.

Gvozdas said getting her daughters vaccinated was an easy call because the family has doctors in every corner of their lives. Other parents remain hesitant.

“I let them get vaccinated for all the other things, but this I just don’t trust,” said a parent.

When asked about what she would say to those who are concerned, Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Midlands pediatrician Dr. Katie Stephenson said it’s important for parents to consider the data before refusing to get their children vaccinated against the deadly virus.

“We have seen over the course of COVID that children who are hospitalized or are in our emergency department with COVID and COVID-related illnesses are almost uniformly unvaccinated,” she said. “And over 50 percent of those are unvaccinated because they’ve been too young to get the vaccine.”

Stephenson encouraged parents not to wait with the holidays around the corner.

“This is perfect timing for kids to get in and get their two doses in before Christmas comes, and that way families can really spend time together,” she said.

For those who are nervous about needles, Prisma Health has Child Life specialists that use a numbing spray to cut down on any pain from the shot, and they’ll even play games with children to help distract them.

For Pippa Smith, getting her shot wasn’t so bad.

“Don’t be as nervous as you think you should be,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt nearly as much as you think.”

Child Life specialists with Prisma Health say to prepare your children to get the COVID shot, you should answer their questions honestly and talk to them about how the shot could help them better combat germs.

“If you’re bringing your children out for the COVID vaccine, the best advice I can give you is, to be honest, be honest why you’re coming,” Christy Fink, Manager of Child Life and Special Programs at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Midlands, said. “Kids know, they’re so smart.”

Click here for a full list of vaccine clinics in the Midlands and their hours of operation.

RELATED STORY | Where can you get a COVID shot for kids in the Midlands?

DHEC says there are currently more than 250 vaccine providers across the state that are now able to administer pediatric vaccinations. In addition, DHEC is partnering with the South Carolina Department of Education to offer vaccination clinics at interested schools.

RELATED | DHEC says it supports CDC’s approval for children ages 5 to 11, urges parents to get them vaccinated

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