SHOREWOOD — Sage Specialty Pharmacy, at the corner of Oakland and Capitol Drive in Shorewood, was one of the only pharmacies in Wisconsin that started vaccinating kids in the 12 to 15-year-old age group on Wednesday, about a half-hour after the Centers for Disease Control approved the Pfizer version of the vaccine for this age group.
Most other pharmacies and pediatric clinics will start vaccinating this age group Thursday or Friday.
Lila Bangert-Pakroo, 13, was the first to get the shot at Sage, around 3:40 p.m.
“It feels special to be one of the first kids in our state to get it,” said Bangert-Pakroo. “It was painless. I wasn’t nervous though. I’m the last to get it in my family. It will open up a lot more opportunities for us to do things and go places without worry. I think it would be better to get some side effects from the vaccine that has been proven to work on millions of people, than get the disease that has killed millions of people.”
The Duback sisters, 14-year-old twins Grace and Natalie and 12-year-old Lucy, got their first shots after Bangert-Pakroo.
“I’m a little nervous about how it might feel and how I might react to it. But overall, I’m pretty excited,” said Grace.
“It means we’ll be able to do more stuff, so overall I’m excited,” said Natalie. “We will be able to hang out with our grandparents now and not have to worry about them as much.”
“Playing hockey with a mask is really hard. I’m excited to take it off and be more normal,” said Lucy.
“This is just a really positive next step in getting more of our community vaccinated,” said pharmacist Jon Phillips, the President of Sage Specialty Pharmacy.
"I'm feeling good," said 13-year-old Madison Rose.
"It was painless," said Freya Stratte.
"Mentally it's a huge relief and it just takes a load of stress that comes off that you didn't know you were carrying," said Freya's mom, Laura Stratte.
"I saw more moms crying than kids crying from getting the vaccines because they were so happy," Phillips said. "It's almost like getting a weight lifted off their shoulders, I think, and especially for moms, because they worry about, number one, the health of their kids, but they also worry about the ability for the family to get together."
15-year-old Clark Hinz said he watched the CDC panel vote and couldn't wait to get his shot. He and his sister rushed into the pharmacy while their mother was parking.
"She was still pulling in, we just jumped out of the car and walked in as soon as we could because we thought they were going to close," Hinz said.
Hinz said he works at a restaurant and says most of his coworkers are already vaccinated, so he wanted to get his. To him, inoculation can't come soon enough.
"Just hanging out with my friends, mainly," Hinz said. "We tried to hang out over last summer, but it was difficult. We had to wear a mask and it was distanced."
Phillips says from Thursday afternoon until Saturday at 2 p.m., Sage Specialty Pharmacy will administer 240 vaccines for kids in the 12 to 15-year-old age group. Next week, 250 more are scheduled.
“This is an important agreement group from the standpoint of, you know, 12 to 15-year-old kids are the ones going to summer camp and doing a lot of activities,” said Phillips. “Because of that, they are potentially the people most likely to spread the virus as well. We thought it was important from a community service and public health standpoint, to get them in here to be vaccinated as soon as possible.“
Late Wednesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds can begin Thursday.
Phillips said he called DHS earlier in the week and was told he could give shots as soon as the CDC approved it.
Other area hospitals, health departments and pharmacies said they were waiting for that guidance or are preparing to ramp up supply.
"For parents and guardians out there, now is the time to start planning," DHS Deputy Health Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said.
Phillips said he hopes to give shots to as many as 70 kids Thursday, and said he has hundreds more signed up. If you want to make an appointment for your child, head to https://www.sage-specialtypharmacy.com/.