When I got my first COVID-19 vaccine dose this year, I almost cried. The end of concepts like “social-distancing” and “Zoom” everything seemed to be in sight. Still, I couldn’t wait for the news about the eligibility of my girls’ getting vaccines of their own. When the news about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine safety for children ages 5-11 was announced yesterday, I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s a huge first step for all school-aged children and those that have returned to in-person learning.
As a family, we have continued to mask up to protect others and ourselves, particularly our youngest family member, Alice (who is 2 and is ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine). We carry our sanitizer kits wherever we go and stick with our bubble – another concept I’m done with – for social activities. While the pandemic life is all Alice has ever known, a part of me feels guilty that she hasn’t had the same social experiences of having a birthday party and flying on a plane like her older sister Ilse. I know that at some point, we will make up for these missed social experiences, but somehow it will still feel different.
Hence, my unbridled excitement for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out for my older daughter Ilse. Ilse had her annual physical last week, and even her pediatrician was optimistic about an autumn or winter roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine for school-aged children. Within a few hours of yesterday’s news, a few moms in my circle asked me about our family’s next steps. For us, the next step is getting our flu vaccine. We have religiously gotten our flu vaccine as a family since Ilse was born. We make a day of it with a little shopping, takeout, and a long nap in the afternoon. Getting our flu shot together on a weekend means we don’t have to juggle scheduling them on a weekday or take any additional days off (we hope).
When it’s Ilse’s turn for the COVID-19 vaccine, we plan to keep her home from school for a day, depending on what day she gets it. While my husband and I did not experience any side effects, we want to be mindful of any side effects that Ilse might experience. Our hope is that she will take to the vaccine as well as her annual flu vaccine.
In the meantime, we will wait for the official roll-out for school-aged children to commence. After Ilse is vaccinated, then we wait for Alice’s eligibility. But I will take the wins where we can get them. Having Ilse vaccinated will be one less worry for our family and for her. Given the struggle of the last two school years, I can’t wait for the day when we can all go outside, not have to wear our masks every day, and hug our friends freely. Maybe in the future, Ilse and (eventually) Alice can have the childhood they should have, not the one that was forced on them.