Brothers, 10 and 8, get COVID vaccines “to keep other people safe”

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Charlie Bomgardner already had a pretty good stock of COVID-19 antibodies from a late August infection, but the 10-year-old Indian Trail Intermediate School student took the jab at a local Walgreens pharmacy Wednesday.

He barely flinched when the kindly vaccinating pharmacist performed her quick needle poke.

“I would rate it a two out of 10,” Charlie said of the pain level. “The flu shots are more a five out of 10 because I’m usually more stressed about the pain than anything else.”

He called the COVID pain “very underwhelming,” but said the smooth jab wasn’t the biggest reason he was happy about getting his first dose. Neither was the fact that before long he’ll finally be able to have a sleepover with his best friend.

Johnson City, Tenn. brothers Henry, 8, and Charlie Bomgardner, 10, show off their vaccination cards after getting a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a Johnson City Walgreens pharmacy Nov. 10.

“I’m glad about getting it because first of all I’ll be protected, but then a lot of other people will be protected by me getting this vaccine because if I don’t get COVID then other people don’t catch it from me as often.”

His own COVID experience after contracting the virus during a wave of infections that sent several halls home at Indian Trail was a bit anxiety-inducing in its own right. Henry, who followed him into the vaccination chair Wednesday, has childhood asthma.

“It still made me feel bad as it was and I don’t want anybody else to have to experience that,” Charlie said.

Charlie and Henry’s mom Suzy was on hand along with her husband, Tim. She said COVID in the household was a stressor, even though they knew the likelihood of Charlie experiencing serious illness was negligible.

The family was vigilant about quarantining Charlie, though keeping him away from Henry and their 13-year-old brother Oscar wasn’t a piece of cake.

“Charlie did well and he recovered fairly quickly, and he did a really good job quarantining himself,” Suzy Bomgardner said. “It was just tough to keep them all separated, because, got a flock of boys and they want to rough house and be around each other, so that was difficult. We’re glad to see the other side of that.”

“Having my brother have COVID, I felt really scared,” Henry said. “I kept on secretly getting close to him, because, he’s my brother. I didn’t catch it.”

Henry said his asthma “feels really bad” when it flares up, and knowing what he does about how COVID affects many people’s respiratory systems gave him plenty of motivation to get the shot.

8-year-old Henry Bomgardner winces as he receives his first dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine Nov. 10 in Johnson City, Tenn.

“I know how it feels to have it and I think that’s how it’ll feel to have COVID so I want to do as much as I can to stop it from getting me and other people,” he said.

Suzy said she was “very grateful for science, and I’m grateful for our doctors and pediatricians who are doing the right thing and helping us to get to this point.”

She said her sister, who lives in Canada, wasn’t able to visit the family over the 2020 holiday season. Her family will be down this year.

“I’m excited that they will be protected and that we won’t be inadvertently sharing things we don’t want to be sharing.”

Suzy said she and Tim didn’t head into Walgreens this week exercising some sort of blind faith.

“We did a lot of research and we talked to our pediatrician,” she said. “We have doctor friends who also strongly encouraged us to do this, and we feel strongly about protecting our community in any way we can do that. If this is just a simple way that we can help protect our community then that’s something that we feel strongly about doing.”

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