DOVER — Leah Randall patiently waited, then shrugged and said it was “fine.”
It was the first step for the 10-year-old from Dover to be vaccinated against COVID-19. She was one of several Capital School District students last week to receive the recently approved Pfizer vaccine made specifically for 5- to 11-year-olds.
The Capital School District partnered with the Kent County Coalition for vaccine equity to hold three clinics last week — one Wednesday at Towne Point Elementary, one Thursday at Dover High and another Friday at William Henry Middle School.
Leah came to Friday’s clinic with her mother, Maria Randall, who said she wanted to ensure her daughter was protected against the virus.
“We travel a lot and I don’t want to risk exposure,” Ms. Randall said.
Also in attendance was 9-year-old Addison Johnson from South Dover Elementary. She brought along a stuffed pig for support, making sure the animal also wore a mask like others in the gymnasium.
Lauren Johnson, Addison’s mother, said her daughter has been asking to get vaccinated.
“She wanted to do it,” said Ms. Johnson, who also received her booster dose at the event. “She’s been paying attention to the news and her friends have been talking about it. So we figured why not?”
Taylor Dickerson also came for his booster dose and his two sons, Linus, 11 and Clive, 9, tagged along as well. Both boys received their first pediatric dose on Friday.
“I think it’s important just for us to have immunity in the community and for our personal health,” Mr. Dickerson said. “They weren’t scared at all. They’ve both have had vaccinations before and they said this one felt fine.”
The Rev. Rita Paige, one of the leaders of the Kent County Coalition, said the group administered 35 doses to children between the ages of 5 and 11 over the course of the three days. The Towne Point Elementary and Dover High clinics each administered 12 pediatric doses while there were 11 done at William Henry on Friday.
All those who received a first dose this week will receive their second dose to complete the vaccine series at vaccination clinics Jan. 5-7.
“I was glad to see that parents were allowing their children to get the vaccine,” Rev. Paige said. “We’re very thankful to the Capital School District.”
Delaware vaccine providers first began offering the Pfizer vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds on Nov. 3, in accordance with guidance from the Delaware Division of Public Health.
Since then, there have been 11,789 children in that age group to receive at least one dose of the two-shot series in Delaware, according to the DPH’s vaccine tracker as of Friday at 6 p.m. That total represents 15.1% of 5- to 11-year-olds in the state.
The state has already hosted several vaccination clinics specifically for students in the age group. The Christiana School District held two clinics in November, one at Kirk Middle School in Newark and another at The Bancroft School in Wilmington while Beebe Healthcare hosted a pair of vaccination events for school-aged children on back-to-back Saturdays in November.
The youth vaccine, which is one-third of the dosage of the adult vaccine, is available at DPH’s four standing vaccination sites — the Blue Hen Corporate Center in Dover, Georgetown Plaza in Georgetown, Canby Park in Wilmington and University Plaza in Newark.
Additionally, the vaccine is available to patients of pediatric health care providers and a limited number of large chain pharmacies. DPH recommended parents check pharmacy websites for scheduling options and availability before going.
DPH encourages parents or guardians to first contact their child’s pediatrician to see if they are administering the vaccine. Written parental consent is required for individuals younger than 18, but either a parent or other adult may attend with the child.
It was not just children being vaccinated this week at the Capital School Districts though. The Kent County Coalition was offering first doses, second doses and booster doses to adults.
There were 133 COVID-19 vaccinations given out over the course of the three days, which includes the 35 pediatric doses. An additional 25 flu vaccinations were also administered at the clinic.
Booster doses were the most popular, with 83 administered, but Rev. Paige was pleased to see several adults come in for their first dose of the vaccine, as the coalition continues to reach new people.
“The three days were amazing,” Rev. Paige said. “Not only are we doing boosters and flu shots, but we’ve had first doses and second doses. To me, that’s where the real impact is.”