TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Tallahassee pharmacies saw a busy weekend, with parents rushing in to get the COVID-19 vaccine for their children. Heather Rosenberg was one of those parents in line.
"We had to go to two Walgreens for three kids because, by the time I made the first appointment, they were done, and so I did the other two kids at a separate location," she said.
Getting the shot was important to the mom of three, especially after all three of her kids caught COVID this school year.
"Seven days in, they all caught COVID. Luckily they had a mild case of it, all three of them, but it was just always one of those things in the back of my head, that it was a ticking time bomb," said Rosenberg.
Tallahassee pediatrician Dr. Paul Robinson said the end of the pandemic could be nearing now that the vaccine is available for ages five and up.
"Every long-term infectious disease the world's ever known, kids are kind of the way out or part of the way out," Dr. Robinson said.
The pediatrician added that most parents of his patients are ready to vaccinate their children, but there are ones with outstanding questions.
One concern that comes up a lot is the possibility of the vaccine giving their kid myocarditis, or heart inflammation.
"While that can rarely, rarely occur with the vaccine in children, it's much less likely to occur with the vaccine than with the wild, real infection," he said.
Other parents also fear the vaccine was rushed. Dr. Robinson said that's not the case. He said the messenger RNA vaccine has been around for nearly four decades. The initial purpose of the research was to find a vaccine for SARS.
"It's not a new technology. They've been studying it for years and years and they just switched it COVID, which was a pretty simple change," said Dr. Robinson. "There is no way they could have kind of with that vaccine in one year from scratch. That's just not possible. Science just doesn't run that quickly."
Dr. Robinson explained this next age group available to roll up their sleeves will play a key role in ending the pandemic because of herd immunity.
Dr. Robinson said while children are less likely to get sick or develop a strong case, they are some of the biggest spreaders of the virus.
The key focus for medical professionals is developing herd immunity, meaning if the overwhelming majority of people are vaccinated, there's a smaller chance of an unvaccinated person getting infected.
"The herd immunity protects everybody and some of the people that are protected when everyone gets vaccinated are children and adults who can't receive vaccines, for whatever reason," said Dr. Robinson. "Maybe they have cancer, maybe they're getting chemotherapy, maybe they've had a bone marrow transplant and they can't get the vaccine yet because it would kill them. We have to ask our neighbors to protect them by getting their own vaccines."
For anyone afraid of the needle and what comes next, Rosenberg says her children have done well. Since getting the vaccine on Sunday, only one of her three kids have complained of a sore arm and no other symptoms.
"I'll take a sore arm any day of the week, in order to have an alive and healthy child," she said.
Dr. Robinson is preaching a similar message to his patients.
"Kids need to feel comfortable that even though the needle may look scary, they're not going to feel much pain, with the vaccine," he said.
Pharmacies are offering the shot for children right now.