Children line up to get the jab

·3 min read

Siblings Eden and Lucas Hessel don’t like needles, but both say they weren’t afraid of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I don’t like them,” Eden told The Voice minutes after receiving her first dose Saturday.

“But I’m not scared. It hurt a little bit, but it’s still a good idea.”

The young cowgirl, replete in a silky pink cape and cowboy boots and hat, was among the 550 Chatham-Kent youngsters to be immunized at the first children’s vaccine clinic at held at Chatham’s Bradley Centre.

It was a full house, with every appointment booked. A total of 1,100 shots were administered, half of them children, the other half booster shots with a sprinkling of adults receiving their first dose.

Eden, a Grade 4 student, said she was excited to get the vaccine so she can help protect people like her 99-year-old great-grandmother.

“We should get the vaccine so we don’t give it (COVID-19) to older people,” Eden explained.

Her brother, seven-year-old Lucas, said he didn’t feel a thing when he got his shot.

Sporting a superhero’s eye mask and wielding a large wooden sword, the Grade 2 student said he doesn’t mind needles at all.

“I’m not scared of them,” he said.

Mom Leann Hessel said she was happy her children were among the first kids in Chatham-Kent to be immunized, adding the family has avoided discussing any of the negatives put forward by anti-vaxx community.

“We don’t talk about that,” Leann said. “We do what we feel is right for our family.”

Chatham-Kent Public Health communications spokesman Jeff Moco said interest in the children’s clinics has been strong.

Volunteers and staff alike have done their part to take the sting out of the experience for youngsters by decorating the clinic with sparkly balloons, kites and clouds as part of a superhero theme.

Children who attend are invited to dress up as their favourite superhero, and some staffers are also in costume.

Moco said transitioning to a child-friendly vaccine centre was a pivot for the Bradley Centre team, adding staff was able to build on lessons learned from the adult clinics.

Moco said the clinic intake was streamlined, separating children from adults, in order to avoid transmission of the virus.

“We wanted to make sure there was no chance of spreading infection,” Moco added.

Ontario Ministry of Health officials hope that COVID-19 rates will be brought down by vaccinating children, as a large portion of the province’s outbreaks are occurring in school settings.

More Chatham-Kent clinics are in the works with mobile clinics planned at three area high schools. These clinics are for everyone, including parents and other community members who may want the jab.

The Bradley Clinic will be open Tuesdays and Saturdays during the month of December.

Clinics will also be held at Blenheim District High School Dec. 6; Wallaceburg District Secondary School, Dec. 13, and Tilbury District High School on Dec. 20 from 3 to 8 p.m.

For more information or to register, visit the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit webpage www.GetYourShotCK.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice

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