Kids eagerly await vaccinations as much as they await the last day of summer vacation. Or maybe seeing the dentist. Or eating broccoli.
“I’m nervous,” said Dafne Toledo, 9.
“I’m concerned,” said Evan Mendoza, also 9, who offered a brave front at a price.
“If I don’t freak out, will you give me $300?” he said to his mom, Brooke Hattich.
“I’ll give you a milkshake on the way home,” she negotiated.
And so the give-and-take went in the line waiting to enter Expo Hall on Wednesday at the Solano County Fairgrounds’ mass vaccination clinic.
The FDA authorized Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 on Oct. 29, which brought relief to Leah Wynn. The Vallejo mother of three brought her 7-year-old daughter, Saturn, into the fairgrounds for a vaccine, with another child nearing 5 and a 7-month-old baby at home.
“She (Saturn) is in school right now and so it’s stressful,” Wynn said. “She can’t go see her grandparents right now. They’re a vulnerable population and live in the Midwest. If she gets vaccinated, we can see family again.”
Wynn said she has a friend working at the CDC “so we knew it (the vaccine) was coming and that Saturn would be able to get it.”
Wynn said her husband is an ICU nurse “and he’s been taking care of COVID patients throughout the pandemic” and the vaccines “keep everyone safe; my family safe. He’s been a nurse over a decade and we’ve never seen the volume of patients as we have for COVID.”
As much as Wynn tries, it’s difficult convincing her daughter the shot won’t hurt “and she’s had other shots and her ears pieced. She’s still a little bit scared, which I understand. When I was her age, I was the same way.”
Dafne’s dad, Carlos Toledo, thought it’s important to have his daughter vaccinated because “I want to be assured that she’s safe at school and that she doesn’t contract the virus from her peers.”
Dafne understands the purpose is “so I won’t get the COVID. I’m worried that if I get the COVID, there won’t be enough (hospital) beds.”
Hattich said it’s important to get her son “back into a normal routine and move on past the pandemic and get some normal back in his life. He knows it (getting vaccinated) will open more things up for him.”
Avoiding arguments with those who eschew the vaccine “is not always easy,” said Wynn. “A lot of times you have to listen and be patient with people. There’s a lot of new information coming and science is something that’s always changing. People get information and think that’s it. We’re trying to be patient with people. It’s mostly fear making them get so upset.”
Toledo said he “hasn’t been in that position” of arguing with those who don’t believe in the vaccine.
“If they don’t want to get the vaccine, that’s on them,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to hurt our relationship with my friends. I’ll just voice my point of view; that it keeps us safe.”
Toledo said that if he were his daughter’s age and had to deal with the pandemic, “I think it would be pretty tough on my mental health. Any change at all is tough already for kids. All of a sudden, you shut down, and you’re with parents all day long. We have learned to have a little patience at home. It was a big change for us, especially her.”
“We’ve kind of kept our beliefs to ourselves,” said Hattich, a Napa resident. “Everyone is allowed to believe what they want to believe and trust what they trust. We know what’s best for our family and him (Evan) getting vaccinated is what’s best for us.”
There are about 28 million children between ages 5 and 11 in the United States, well above the 17 million children between ages 12 to 17 who became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in May.
The fairgrounds offers Pfizer to those 5 and older and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are available to those 18 and older for standard vaccines or boosters Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with noon to 1 p.m. closed for staff lunch.
The fairgrounds clinic runs through Dec. 18, though it’s closed Thanksgiving week for the holiday.
There were 1,700 appointments — including 300 for kids — booked Wednesday for the debut of vaccinations for those 5 and to 11, with many more walk-ups, said Colleen Hogan, health educator for Solano County EMS. More than 800 have appointments for Thursday.
“We’re promoting this as a ‘walk-in clinic’ so we’re hoping to really get a turnout Thursday,” said Hogan.