OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Children’s Mercy Hospital hosted its first vaccination clinic for anyone between the ages of five to 22 at its Overland Park location Saturday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this week to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine for those between five and 11 years old. The new recommendation affects about 28 million children in the United States.
According to staff at Children’s Mercy, 600 kids received their first round of the Pfizer vaccine.
The appointment slots for the first Saturday clinic filled up in one and a half hours, and the hospital is fully booked already through November.
“I had an 8-year-old today tell me, ‘Thank you,’ on the way out after a vaccine. That is just unheard of, and we’re just so excited to be a part of it,” said Ryan McDonough, Children’s Mercy COVID-19 clinics physician lead.
Even through the jitters and tears, McDonough believes children understand the value and necessity of getting vaccinated.
“It just, it almost melts your heart, you know," McDonough said. "These kids want this vaccine because they know it's what’s gonna get back to normal."
Parents Courtney and Dan Mesimer say the day to vaccinate their two boys, Silas and Isaac, has been a long time coming.
“We believe in the science, and we’ve taken it ourselves. We’re thrilled we have the opportunity to do this for them at their age now,” Dan Mesimer said. “I think I refreshed the screen to get signed up for this as soon as humanly possible.”
The pediatric dose of the Pfizer vaccine is 10 micrograms compared to the 30 microgram dose given to adults. While the dosage is different, the actual vaccine is essentially the same.
McDonough says the hospital is still seeing cases of COVID-19 in young children, and while the severity of the symptoms may not be as grave compared to adults, experts are still worried about transmission.
He believes pediatric vaccinations could help with lowering hospitalizations and death.
“We have our child life specialists. These are people who are trained in taking care of children in these acute, worrisome and scary situations,” McDonough said.
Staff members use various tools to make the experience as painless as possible. They use light-up distractors, shot blockers to distract the brain, cold spray to numb the pain and keep the television set to Disney Channel in every room.
But Levi Goldsby, who is used to regular allergy shots, says the vaccine was painless and encourages his friends to get the shot.
“I don’t like wearing the mask, and yeah, you can’t travel to many places,” Goldsby said.
His mom, Jenna Goldsby, says she hopes the vaccine is a step in the right direction.
“I didn’t really think it would come this quickly,” Jenna Goldsby said. “Everybody’s work, everybody’s school is challenged, and it’s been hard."
The clinics are open to individuals who are ages five up to 22 years old. Appointments are needed for all clinics.
Self-scheduling is available on the MyChildrensMercy Patient Portal for those that already have an account. Others can schedule by calling the COVID-19 Scheduling Hotline at 816-302-6300.
Learn more about the dates, times and locations for the vaccine clinics here.