Younger Children Get First Covid Vaccine Shots in Texas

An 8-year-old eager to hang out with friends said, “It didn’t hurt that much, but it kind of hurt.” A sixth-grader getting vaccinated on her birthday enthused, “This is the best day ever!”,

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Cheers, tears, comfort dogs and Disney balloons: Covid shots for children get underway in a Texas hospital.

The first child under 12 years old to receive a coronavirus vaccination at Texas Children's Hospital was Paxton Bowers, 5, a leukemia patient at the hospital.
The first child under 12 years old to receive a coronavirus vaccination at Texas Children’s Hospital was Paxton Bowers, 5, a leukemia patient at the hospital.Credit…Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
  • Nov. 3, 2021, 3:08 p.m. ET

HOUSTON — Surrounded by anxious and excited parents, the first young children in Texas — and some of the first in the nation — were vaccinated against the coronavirus early on Wednesday.

The first two doses at Texas Children’s Hospital went to Paxton Bowers, 5, a leukemia patient at the hospital, and his brother Patrick, 9, before the sun had risen.

More than 35,000 children 5 to 11 have been signed up for shots at Texas Children’s so far, and hundreds of them were expected to be immunized on Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed pediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children in that age group on Tuesday, a move that expands eligibility for the vaccine to 29 million younger Americans and will ease the worries of many pandemic-weary parents.

The younger children get one-third of the vaccine dosage that has been cleared for adults and children 12 or older, delivered using smaller needles and different vials to minimize the chance of confusion with adult doses.

About 2.9 million children aged 5 to 11 live in Texas. Twenty-two children in that age group have died from complications of Covid-19 in the state, and 118 have been diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children following a coronavirus infection, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

At the hospital in Houston, the surroundings resembled vaccination sites nationwide, with some modifications for a younger crowd. Several support dogs roamed among the nurses. “The Little Mermaid” played on a large screen in the post-injection monitoring area, which was decorated with Disney-character balloons. Chairs were set up in pairs so that children could sit with a parent or caregiver.

In the vaccination rooms, cheers mixed with yelps and a little bit of crying. Some children squirmed. Others jumped for joy.

“This is the best day ever!” said Elizabeth Burke, a sixth grader who celebrated her 12th birthday on Wednesday by getting her shot. She was the youngest of three children in her family, and the last to get immunized.

“We’ve kept her pretty isolated; we followed all the rules,” said her mother, Lauren Burke. “She was really a trooper.”

Nearby, Camryn Zoe Emanuel, 8, a third grader, said she looked forward to being able to spend more time with friends. “Just have more hang-outs,” she said. As for the shot, “it didn’t hurt that much,” she said, “but it kind of hurt.”

“She was real brave,” said her mother, Sonja Emanuel, who brought her daughter in from the Houston suburb of Missouri City. “This is something she wanted.”

The hospital was also giving shots to parents who wanted a first dose or a booster. Ms. Emanuel sat for a booster after her daughter got her shot.

“It’s a relief,” said Scott Solomon, who watched as his three children, 11, 9, and 6, all got vaccinated on Wednesday. “We went in birth order,” he said.

Thomas, his youngest, squirmed as the nurse prepared the shot. His mother, Catharina Solomon, held him on her lap. “We’re doing this to protect you, bud,” she said. “Thomas, look at the doggy!”

Next to him sat a golden retriever comfort dog, his paws raised by the handler to give Thomas a pair of high-fives.

Thomas cried. His brother Nicholas, 9, tried to talk him through it. Then the shot was over.

“Dad, I get to punch you now!” Thomas said, standing up and walking over to Mr. Solomon.

Then he showed the neon Band-Aid on his leg where the shot had gone in. He said it hurt a little, and now he was ready for a treat.

“I’m going to get a doughnut,” he said.

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