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Kern County parents rush to get their little ones vaccinated | News

The Anin siblings all have big plans for when they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Josiah, 7, can’t wait for family trips to the beach to resume. Cayla, 9, is looking forward to joining her Fletcher Elementary book club and going to John’s Incredible Pizza. Jason, 11, is looking forward to going to his friends’ parties and doing more activities in school.

“With COVID surges, I always said ‘no,'” said their father, Kojo Anin. “They’ve been in the house for so long.”

The family won’t have to stay in much longer: all three siblings received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose at Kaiser Permanente’s medical offices on Friday, the first day the vaccine was available to children 5 to 11 years old in Kern County.

A steady stream of families like the Anins filed through Kaiser’s offices on Friday to a booth decorated with superheroes and Mickey Mouse.

“As soon as I open up appointments, they’re being being booked,” said Denise Bishop, the director of ambulatory clinical practice at Kaiser Permanente. “The people who want it, want it now.”

Many of the children getting their pediatric doses of Pfizer on Friday were the last members of their family to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tracy and Tom Webster said once their youngest child Nathan, 9 was fully vaccinated, the family could return to seeing movies or going to Condors games.

“He’s our baby,” Tracy said.

Rosa Adame said that bringing her daughter Natalia, 8, in for her vaccination brought a sense of relief.

“It’s her turn,” she said.

With one family member still unvaccinated, Adame’s family hasn’t felt safe doing certain activities like going on vacations. She’s also glad to know that Natalia has reduced her risk of getting sick, if she is exposed to COVID-19 at school.

“I want my daughter to have that shield of protection,” she said.

Carlos Velasquez and his wife work in retail, and they had felt protected by their decision to get vaccinated. Bringing in their daughter, Miranda, and son, Charlie, would give the rest of the family “a little more freedom and security.”

Most of the kids in Kaiser’s office didn’t even flinch — one girl even giggled when she got the shot. Some of the kids said they expected worse.

“I feel relieved, because when I get the flu shots, they hurt a bit more,” said Miranda Velasquez, 11.

But sometimes the anxiety of a shot or the prick of the needle is too much, especially for younger patients.

Jessica Sanchez, a licensed vocational nurse, was able to deftly distract the little ones with a question: What kind of sticker they would like? Puppies, princesses and Jurassic Park had a way of making them forget about the momentary sensation of pain.

There were other distractions in the room, too. The office was full of adults, many elderly, getting flu shots and booster shots, too. Some of the other patients would high-five the kids when they were done or congratulate them.

“A lot of the adults are excited,” Sanchez said.

You can reach Emma Gallegos at 661-395-7394. 

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