MILWAUKEE — Thursday, May 13 was the first full day Wisconsin pharmacies and medical providers could administer vaccines to kids between the ages of 12 and 15.
There was a constant flow of this age group and their parents or guardians at Hayat Pharmacy on Layton near 6th Street, on Milwaukee’s south side. The vaccinations were done outside. Chairs were set up for young people to get vaccinated, as the adults stood by their side.
"I was really nervous because I don’t like shots at all,” said Zara Hill, 12. “But overall, it wasn’t so bad.”
“We started discussions about this months ago,” said Zara Hill’s mom. “We wanted her to have an idea of what was going on with the vaccine, and just what she was doing. It’s a big step in trying to get back to normal and do more things for our family.”
“I just wanted to get it over with,” said Nico Schudson, 15. “It’s worth it to be able to hang out with my friends more. It’s been a really tough year.”
Most local pharmacies are already offering the Pfizer vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds, but some are waiting until next week. It’s best to check websites or call ahead.
Walgreens and CVS are also taking appointments for kids. Some locations have more availability than others. The same goes for Ascension and Aurora hospitals, along with Froedtert and Children’s Wisconsin, which will expand vaccine access to more clinics next week.
We know there are people very reluctant to get the vaccine, let alone vaccinate their children.
But every parent we spoke with on all sides of the city Thursday, thinks the benefits far outweigh any risks.
“To be honest, I don’t know why some people are afraid, because it lessens the risk of getting COVID for everyone, young and old,” said Sonia Reyes, who beat COVID-19 and plans to take her 15-year-old daughter to get vaccinated soon.
Mallori Cotton also has a young daughter. “Anything that will keep her safe from any kind of sickness, I’m all for it,” she said. “I would rather take a small chance than no chance at all, if helps to save a life. She’s the only person left in my household not vaccinated. The sooner the better.”
But Cotton knows a lot of families don’t feel the same. She hopes seeing kids healthy after getting the vaccine will help ease fears.
“It will just take time and more education I guess,” she said.
Therapist Lakiesha Russell, who counsels children, teenagers and families, says talking openly with our children about COVID-19 and the vaccine and really listening to them, is key.
“Twelve is very young,” said Russell. “Deciding on whether to get the vaccine, or getting that double shot, is a big responsibility for us to put on a child. Allow your child to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer, let them know you will figure out the answers together. You can talk to a pediatrician or therapist. It’s important to give our children the autonomy to ask questions and get the answers that they need for the whole family to make the decision about the child getting that vaccine. At the end of the day, children might have different opinions on it than parents.”