KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Excitement buzzed in the waiting room of the Ballad Health vaccination center in Kingsport Wednesday evening after the Center for Disease Control (CDC) approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 12-15.
As minors legally have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive a vaccine, parents along with their teens and pre-teens flocked to the Ballad vaccine site, one of the first in the Tri-Cities to open to the age group.
Some parents may have concerns about the vaccine, but Dr. Patricia Chambers, Chief Medical Officer for Niswonger Children’s Hospital and Ballad Health’s Vice President of Pediatric Services said she’s wholly confident in the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.
She said “they’re key to protecting our children and communities from COVID-19.”
The teens at the Kingsport site Wednesday told News Channel 11 they hope the shot gets them one step closer to normalcy.
“I’m just excited because hopefully I’ll soon be able to get to do more things and worry less about COVID,” said 15-year-old Jakob Price.
“So how was it getting the shot. How did it feel?” News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais asked Jakob.
To which he answered: “Nothing. Didn’t feel like anything really. It’d be a lot scarier getting COVID, and the vaccine doesn’t hurt, so do what you can to try and get one.”
When Price first heard the news, he said he was excited.
“I was immediately excited because it meant me and my friends could start getting the vaccine and we’d be safer and might get to be able to get together sometime soon,” he said.
His father, David Price, accompanied Jakob to get his vaccine.
“We were very excited watching the news Monday; we thought it would be, you know, approved and be scheduled; it wasn’t,” he said. “Saw it today, started trying to call around, check websites, then saw on the news that this location was open till seven so we hopped in the car and got and got him here as quick as I could.”
He said it was important to their family for their younger son, Jakob, to get vaccinated.
“Because my wife and I and our older son are all vaccinated, and so we’re trying to get him vaccinated as quickly as we could so that the whole family is good to go and we can start relaxing a little bit,” Price said.
With the whole family vaccinated, he said this upcoming summer could be more like normal.
“We’ll be able to relax a little more and have some more get togethers, we’re planning on trying to get on vacation. Currently he’s wearing a mask when he’s around us at the house, so he’ll be able to relax that and we’ll all be able to be together and not have time masks, at least in our house,” Price added.
His message to those who have not yet been vaccinated: “Go get it; get the vaccine, and let’s all get back to normal.”
13-year-old Piper Osterhus said she is a competitive swimmer and hopes the vaccine will keep her safe against COVID-19 at swim meets.
“Because there are a lot of people there and it makes me feel safer,” she explained. “I’m a really competitive swimmer.”
When asked if the shot hurt, Osterhus said “no.”
“It felt good, so I can do more things now,” she said. “It’s really easy and simple and fast, and it doesn’t hurt at all.”
Over the last year, kids have had to learn to adapt to a virtual world, from school to family gatherings, so as to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect those most vulnerable.
Osterhus said she is excited to get her life back now that she is one step closer to being fully vaccinated.
“I can hang out with my friends and like travel places,” she said. “It’s been a long year and it’s just great that it’s coming to be evolved and like finished.”
Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for use on minors. Ballad Health said the shots have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation.
The hospital system announced Wednesday all clinics in Johnson City, Kingsport, Norton and Abingdon, Virginia will open Thursday to vaccinate all patients 12 and older.