A little scared maybe, but ‘super excited’ too: Young kids line up for their COVID vaccines

The Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity which is attached to the Deliverance Evangelistic Church in North Philly

Families began filling into the center as early as noon on Saturday at the new Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity which is attached to the Deliverance Evangelistic Church in North Philly. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

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With the CDC’s signoff earlier this week, kids ages 5 to 11 finally became eligible to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

And scores of eager families headed to the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity (ASHE) in North Philadelphia for the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium’s first weekend of vaccinations for younger children.

Saturday’s scene certainly wasn’t as frenetic as some of the region’s early vaccine events back in the spring, when all adults first became eligible. But there was still a steady stream of parents who leapt at the opportunity to finally give their kids the same level of protection from the coronavirus.

“Everyone else in the family was vaccinated a few months ago, and this is our first opportunity to get him vaccinated,” said Joe Sirbak, who brought his son Jo. “He’s 11 and he’s been waiting, and we’re happy for this opportunity.”

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Jo (L) and Joe Sirbak (R) filled out the forms as they waited for the doctor to call Jo's name at the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium’s first weekend of vaccinations for younger children at the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity (ASHE) in North Philadelphia
Jo (L) and Joe Sirbak (R) filled out the forms as they waited for the doctor to call Jo’s name. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

Benjamin Warlock said the past year has been filled with anxiety and stress as he waited for daughter Vivian, 8, to get her turn. Once she’s vaccinated, everyone in their household will be protected from the virus.

“I think this is going to be kind of a major next step in this whole dilemma,” Warlock said.

Leon McCrea said he and his wife didn’t hesitate to get their daughter, Noelle McCrea, 10, vaccinated. Though the “why” was important, so was the “where.”

“My daughter finally has an opportunity to get the vaccine. We wanted to get her vaccinated because it matters. And the wonderful work that’s been done by Dr. Stanford and this consortium for the city for so long made us want to come here and get it,” McCrea said.

Leon McCrea (L) said that getting his daughter, Noelle, vaccinated matters and so was the choice to have it done at the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium’s first weekend of vaccinations for younger children at the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity (ASHE) in North Philadelphia
Leon McCrea (L) said that getting his daughter, Noelle, vaccinated matters and so was the choice to have it done at the center. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

Noelle was brave. She’s not really afraid of needles. (She said her sister is). In fact, Noelle was happy to just get it out of the way.

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“I’m a little scared. I’m also super excited,” she said.

Parent Eva Hayes breathed a huge sigh of relief behind her mask as she waited for her son, Kingston Burrell, 8, to have his name called for the shot.

“Wherever we were going, we were just always so nervous and everything. So this will be a lot of relief for both of us,” Hayes said.

Kingston wanted everyone to know that he and one of his best friends, Sean, hang out together all the time and go on “fun trips.” Sean recently got vaccinated, and Kingston said he wanted to join him.

“It’s been a while since I got the needle, but I’m feeling pretty excited,” Kingston said.

Eva Hayes and her son, Kingston, at the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium’s first weekend of vaccinations for younger children at the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity (ASHE) in North Philadelphia
Eva Hayes breathed a sigh of relief as she stepped into the waiting room with her son, Kingston. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

Living in a multigenerational household, Ahnivah Rapaport said, she has been looking forward to this day for a very long time — and so has her 9-year-old son, Benjamin Rapaport.

The reason for Benjamin’s enthusiasm about getting vaccinated was quite simple: “It’s going to be one step closer to getting back to normal — even if you weren’t directly normal to begin with,” he said.

The Rapaport family as they sit tight in the waiting room of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium’s first weekend of vaccinations for younger children at the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity (ASHE) in North Philadelphia
Meet the Rapaport family as they sit tight in the waiting room. Benjamin (far right) said that he wants the vaccine so everything can get back to normal. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

The young ones brought a liveliness that’s largely absent from the typical vaccine clinic for adults. Grown-ups measure their words carefully. Kids are brutally honest.

When asked if he was afraid of needles, Danny McCoy, 8, said he didn’t know — he had a playdate with his friends Charlie and Leo to worry about. But Danny said he was excited about getting the vaccine for a very particular reason:

He said he doesn’t want to lose his life to COVID.

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