Schenectady

‘I’m hopeful’: parents, children excited as vaccine rollout progresses

Parents line up at the Honorable Karen B. Johnson Public Library on Clinton Street in Schenectady to get their COVID-19 vaccination on Nov. 5, 2021.
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Parents line up at the Honorable Karen B. Johnson Public Library on Clinton Street in Schenectady to get their COVID-19 vaccination on Nov. 5, 2021.

SCHENECTADY — It was hard to tell who was more excited on Sunday: 10-year-old Penelope Smith or her mother Melissa.

Penelope and her younger brother Finnian, 8, were among the more than 60 children to receive their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at a clinic hosted by Schenectady County Public Health Services at the Hon. Karen B. Johnson Library along Clinton Street, which coincided with the Schenectady Greenmarket.

“I’m feeling fantastic,” said Melissa, who added she had “absolutely no hesitation” in making appointments for her two children after the low-dose Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 received emergency-use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month.

Melissa said she has been waiting for the vaccine to be cleared for children for months, adding the uncertainty of whether her children have been exposed, or were potentially exposing others, became grueling to cope with.

Her father is “high risk” and the family has been taking “extreme precautions” to stay safe, including not seeing certain family members for nearly two years, she said.

“I had absolutely no hesitation, just like how I don’t hesitate to give them the flu or other childhood immunizations,” Melissa said.

But for Penelope, the vaccine means more than staying safe.

She’s looking forward to playing with her friends indoors without a face mask again and knowing that she has done everything she can to keep others safe.

“I’m glad that I got the vaccine because now I don’t have to get COVID and now I’m safe from it,” Penelope said.

Children and their families found throughout the clinic offered similar sentiments as they waited to get the vaccine.

Ten-year-old Kinley McLean and her mother, Stacey, both said they were excited that children under 12 are now eligible to get inoculated.

Kinley said she’s most excited about being able to stay in school if a classmate tests positive. The Pinewood Intermediate School student was forced to miss class several days recently because she had to quarantine.

“I’m a little excited that I won’t miss any more school,” Kinley said.

She said students on her bus don’t always wear their masks properly, which could mean potentially getting sick and having to be away from friends.

Her mother, meanwhile, is relieved.

“She has asthma, so if she were to get sick with COVID, it could mean hospitalization,” Stacey said. “We spoke with her doctor and they recommended the vaccine as soon as it’s safe. We trust our doctors to know the science and all that stuff behind it.”

Those running the clinic were also reeling seeing the dozens of children line up to get their vaccine, including Claire Proffitt, the assistant director of prevention and patient services at Schenectady County Public Health Services.

“It’s just awesome,” she said. “It’s so fun to see them come in. The kids are doing great.”

Proffitt said a few children have been nervous, but noted nurses on staff have received special training on how to handle such issues.

After getting their shot, children receive a gift bag, complete with an activity book and a few snacks.

Elsewhere, 7-year-old Max Diemer said he was a bit scarred about getting the vaccine, but believes it will be worth it in order to bounce at a trampoline park and go to a friend’s birthday party.

“Probably a trampoline park,” he said when asked what he was most looking forward to after getting the vaccine.

But his mother, Ciara Diemer, said the vaccine will bring her piece of mind. She has a 9-month-old and a 2-year-old still too young to be vaccinated.

“I’m feeling good, I’m hopeful,” she said. “It’s a good day.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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