'We feel so grateful': Chatham children ages 5-11 begin getting vaccinated

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CHAPEL HILL — Just minutes after getting their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at Woods Charter School on Saturday, 8-year-old twin brothers Hudson and Baer Moody sipped happily on hot chocolate while they waited their 15 minutes to be cleared to leave.

“We were first in line as they were so excited to get their shots,” their mom, Kimberley Moody said.

Although the risk for getting COVID-19 and experiencing severe symptoms is lower for younger kids, it still exists, and the Delta variant especially has not spared children. Some have experienced long-term effects and nearly 100 children ages 5-11 have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. That’s why Moody and her wife, Cindy, decided to vaccinate Hudson and Baer — plus they wanted to help avoid spreading the virus to others, including their immunocompromised grandparents.

“The boys understand all of this and are keen to get back to some degree of normal in a few weeks, once they are fully vaccinated,” Kimberley Moody, who lives in Briar Chapel, said. “It means to them that they can have a sleepover with other vaccinated friends in a few weeks’ time — that was the first thing they said they wanted to do.”

Baer and Hudson are among the first 5- to 11-year-olds to get the vaccine in Chatham, following the recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last Tuesday that young children receive the Pfizer pediatric (lower dose) vaccine. Local providers began offering the vaccine to children ages 5-11 late last week, the Chatham County Public Health Dept. said in a release.

“I know many are excited by this news and are eager to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19,” said CCPHD Director Mike Zelek. “We will continue to work hard to make the vaccine accessible to everyone across Chatham.”

Hudson and Baer Moody, 8, sip on hot chocolate and eat snacks after getting vaccinated at Woods Charter School last Saturday. The twin brothers were the first in line at the vaccine clinic. / Submitted photo

More options will be available locally in the coming weeks as supply increases, the release said, advising people to call ahead or register in advance for appointments. Many Chatham parents told the News + Record they’ve since made vaccination appointments for their children.

Chatham resident Jon Sawyer said his 10-year-old daughter, Carrie, was vaccinated on Saturday. She experienced some minor side effects, but had “no problems 24 hours out.”

“Carrie was keen to be vaccinated, we sat down and discussed it in detail and took her own feelings into account,” he said. “We were on the same page.”

Sawyer said he was concerned about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the human body, particularly for previously infected children as they get older. He encouraged other parents to speak to their children’s pediatricians and “ignore Facebook (and) their half-crazy uncle.”

Dwan Reives Dowdy, a Siler City resident, was initially afraid to get the vaccine herself.

“Then I realized I was tired of COVID and I knew that I had to do my part,” she said.

After getting vaccinated, Dowdy said she and her son Brayden Richmond, 11, talked after looking at medical advice and decided to get him vaccinated as soon as the vaccine was available.

Dowdy realized she’d chosen to get her son vaccinated for the flu every year, along with the 12 vaccines currently required by the state for K-12 students to attend public schools. Not once before, she said, had she questioned the ingredients, effectiveness or safety of the vaccine. She relied on the research done by the health care industry before, and she decided to do that with the COVID-19 vaccine too.

“I as a parent do understand the fear of the unknown — I also understand that everyone has to do their part,” Dowdy said. “I’ve watched family members and friends lay loved ones to rest behind this pandemic. I do not want to be a parent that has to bury my child because I refused to do anything to help.”


Woods Charter School Nurse Kimberly Houston vaccinates her daughter, Kelsie, at the school's vaccination event Saturday. Houston said with assistance from IndyCare Health, 192 children. / Submitted photo

For some parents, getting the vaccine feels impossible because of their child’s aversion to needles — particularly because the Pfizer vaccine requires two rounds to be fully effective.

On Saturday, Bear Creek resident Heather Woodie took her two sons — Xander, 11, and Xavier, 10 — to get vaccinated at the Walgreens in Ramseur. One of her sons hates shots; he has cried and hid while getting previous vaccines. Woodie said she thinks having so much time to prepare helped her son to be less afraid by the time he could get the shot.

“They have been asking when they could get vaccinated since the vaccine was first made available to adults,” Woodie said. “They often talk about what things might be like ‘if COVID ever goes away’ and they are most looking forward to going to school without masks, playing more indoor sports and going back to (indoor trampoline park) DefyGravity — they feel like getting vaccinated is finally something concrete they can do to help move that along.”

Though vaccines don’t prevent all cases of coronavirus, getting vaccinated significantly lessens serious symptoms and the need for hospitalization in the case of infection. With that knowledge, Woodie said “it only made sense to us to do the one thing we could to try to protect our kids and ensure they have a long and healthy life.”

Kimberley Moody, mom of Hudson and Baer, encouraged any parents on the fence to not put off getting their kids vaccinated any longer.

The only side effects her boys have experienced since Saturday? Feeling excited, she said.

“Now that they are vaccinated, we can’t help but feel that a weight has been lifted,” she said. “It feels like this age group has been a little left behind up until this point, with plenty of risk of exposure to COVID-19 and little protection. We feel so grateful.”

You can find locations to vaccinate your children at North Carolina's dashboard for COVID-19 vaccines.

Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at hannah@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.

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