NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Monday was the first day children ages 5-11 could receive their COVID-19 vaccine at Monroe Carrell Juniors Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Alyssa Kidd and her sister McKaylee rolled up their sleeves to help protect their grandparents.

“I wanted to get it so that they wouldn’t get sick, and they could come and hang out with us,” says McKaylee. Her sister Alyssa added, “I feel glad that I got it.”

The vaccine station opened Monday morning to children ages 5-11 who will receive a weaker dose of the Pfizer shot that’s administered to those older than 12. Hospital staff said the response was overwhelming.

“We already have over 1,000 patients scheduled for this week, and we’re taking some additional walk-in patients as well,” explains Kathy Moss, an Administrator Director at the children’s hospital.

Alyssa and McKaylee’s mom, Peggy Kidd, admits this medical decision wasn’t made in haste.

“When I think about whether or not to do it,” Kidd says, “I was a little bit nervous. But, I think the positives outweigh the negatives.”

Explaining the final decision to immunize her children was made not only to protect her girls but those around them.

“I think we can protect the other kids around us who may not be able to get the vaccine,” Kidd continues.

The vaccine station at the hospital is geared towards children. Movies play in the background as a facility dog puts people at ease. There’s even a child life specialist on staff who has advice for parents of nervous children.

“I always say, make sure they understand why. Why do you want them to get the covid-19 vaccine today?”
says Katie Beard, Child Life Specialist at Vanderbilt.

According to the FDA’s emergency use guidelines, children ages 5-11 will receive two doses of the vaccine three weeks apart. While the vaccine is recommended for most kids, there are some exceptions.

“If they have what’s called a polyethylene glycol allergy, we would refer them to our allergy clinic. Other than that, all patients would meet the criteria to be vaccinated,” says Moss.

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The vaccine station is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 6:45 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Parents are urged to make an appointment prior to arriving.