SHARONVILLE, Ohio — James McKernan’s family talked about whether or not he should get the COVID-19 vaccine. In the end, the 12-year-old decided he wanted to go for it.
“I was like I really want to do this," McKernan said. “Because I feel like in five weeks I can finally vacation again and go on playdates and sleepovers. I think I'll be a lot more confident going to friend's houses and stuff."
McKernan got his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine today at the Sharonville Convention Center. The pandemic has been difficult, and he’s hoping the shot will boost his mood and others' around him.
"I feel like I’ve been more sad,” McKernan said. “But luckily I’ve been able to play soccer and all the sports that I like. So I feel like it's been less difficult for me. But I know it's a lot more difficult for others."
McKernan’s mom Laurie McKernan said even after a family discussion, the decision was easy.
“We've been watching the news every day, and we just couldn't wait to bring him in to get that,” she said. "The vaccine is the way for life to become more normal for us to be able to all the things we've been missing the last year."
Tom Hess was thinking about his kids’ safety when he brought his two young teens, Ethan and Sophie Hess, to the Sharonville Convention Center after spotting an opening before school.
"We thought about what are the risks of not vaccinating versus vaccinating, but once we did that it was pretty clear: It's just so much more beneficial and gives us so much more peace of mind to know they have some level of protection," he said. "We have other kids in our neighborhood that got the disease and then their sporting events were impacted. They couldn't breathe as easily."
Sophie Hess, a 13-year-old seventh-grader at Sycamore Junior High School, said she’ll worry less now that she’s on her way to being fully vaccinated.
"We're going on vacation right after school, so that will be fine," Sophia Hess said.” I won't have to worry as much (about) getting sick."
Her 14-year-old brother Ethan said he was on board as well.
"I wanted it," he said. "I thought it would be an extra level of protection and confidence when I go and hang out with my friends or just outside in general."
A study by the American Academy for Pediatrics has found that 22% of all active coronavirus infections nationwide involved children. That’s why a manager at St. Elizabeth Healthcare said that the timing of the vaccine authorization for young teens is critical.
“Although there's a smaller number of hospitalizations and deaths there still, Covid infection deaths were still in the top 10 deaths of adolescents,” said Suzi Francis, St. Elizabeth Hospital ambulatory pharmacy manager, “So that is concerning when we know we have a treatment that's very effective.”
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer's request to expand the vaccine's emergency use authorization to include 12- to 15-year-olds.
The company's original authorization given in December was for people 16 and older. The CDC on Tuesday accepted the recommendation of their advisory panel and now recommends the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people as young as 12.