By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, firstname.lastname@example.org
The kids felt victorious. Their parents felt relieved. And all it took was a shot in the arm.
IU Health leaders, physicians and other team members lined up to get their kids vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus over the past few days.
The smaller-dose Pfizer vaccine was approved for children ages 5-11 last week. Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and its primary care offices received their first allotments of the vaccine mid-week.
“There’s nothing more important than my kids’ health,” Riley Children’s Health President Gil Peri said as he held his son Ari’s hand before the 7-year-old received his shot. “We want to do our part to end the pandemic. We feel good to know that we are giving them every chance to stay healthy by getting them vaccinated.”
Nearby, Dr. Sarah Bosslet was joined by her son Bram, 7, as he got his first shot. Dr. Bosslet, a pediatrician at Riley’s Georgetown Road primary care offices, and her husband, Dr. Gabriel Bosslet, have four children, all of whom have now been vaccinated.
“All of my kids, as soon as they’ve been able to get the vaccine, they want it,” she said. “They just want life back to normal.”
The two-part vaccine for younger kids, which is one-third the dose of the adult Pfizer vaccine, is impressive in its efficacy, she said.
“It works so well with so few side effects, I’m actually extremely excited … about its ability to protect us.”
Alison Isenhour works at IU Health Methodist Hospital and has two kids, 16-year-old Adam and 9-year-old Lauren. Adam, a cancer survivor, was vaccinated in the spring. Lauren’s turn finally came Monday at a Walgreen’s in Brownsburg.
She chose to get her shot in her left arm and sailed through the brief appointment, Isenhour said, grateful that her entire family is now vaccinated and that Adam is more protected.
“Lauren told the lady at the clinic that now she could have other fully vaccinated kids to our home. She’s never been able to go to or have friends to the house because of cancer, then COVID,” Isenhour said.
Bram, Ari and Lauren are among 28 million children in the United States newly eligible for the vaccine to prevent the most serious cases of COVID, a disease that has killed more than 755,000 people in the U.S. and 5 million around the world.
While the virus is considerably less deadly in children (700-plus youth in the country have died), that reality does nothing to ease the pain of a parent who has lost their child to the disease or who has seen a child suffer its sometimes debilitating effects.
Bram Bosslet was eager to join his older siblings in getting the protection the vaccine offers, his mom said, noting he is a very social child and is ready to return to his normal activities.
Dr. James Wood, an infectious disease specialist at Riley, was able to get an appointment for his two children, ages 5 and 7, at the Fishers Health Department last Wednesday, the first day the vaccine was available.
“From my standpoint, it is the best thing we can do for our kids to protect them,” he said. “It is still rare that kids get very sick and hospitalized, but every time I see a kid in the ICU … I just think about if they’d only been vaccinated, we almost certainly wouldn’t be in this position.
“Although rare events are rare,” Dr. Wood added, “when they happen to your child, it’s real. Seeing those kids, seeing those parents, thinking that this was preventable, it’s heartbreaking.”
The physicians and other team members who lined up to get their kids vaccinated hope their example gives confidence to parents who might be on the fence about the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bosslett encourages anyone who needs more information to go to a reliable source, most likely their physician, to ask questions. And she recommends this website.
Riley will also host several COVID-19 clinics for kids ages 5-11 on Saturdays in November and December. Find the full schedule and additional details here.
Riley will also partner with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for a vaccine clinic at the museum, 3000 N. Meridian St., from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 2. Advance registration is not required.
To make an appointment for the pediatric vaccine, contact your child’s pediatrician, or go to ourshot.in.gov.