Robert S. White III, better known as “Sam,” was among some of the first children in Shelby County to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it became available for youngsters from 5 to 11 years old.
“Bobby and I wanted to make sure Sam was protected,” said Stephanie White, Sam’s mom. “We are both fully vaccinated, and we have taken booster shots.”
When the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was first offered to children weeks ago, lines of eager parents with their children snaked along the sidewalk at Shelby County Health Department, 814 Jefferson Ave., even before the vaccination center was open.
Those lines are no longer forming, but children are being vaccinated in steady numbers, say health officials.
“We want to continue to encourage parents to bring their children in to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph, medical officer at the Shelby County Health Department. “Many of the children are actually excited to be taking the vaccine. It’s like they get it. If they take the vaccine, things can get back to normal sooner.”
Sam was certainly eager to get his vaccination, according to his mother.
“We explained to him that it’s no different from getting shots for school,” said Stephanie White. “He and I sat down while he read through some information he researched. Sam told me, ‘Mommy, I want to get my vaccination.’
“It wasn’t available for kids at the time. But as soon as he found out children his age were now getting the vaccine, Sam was excited to receive his.”
A whopping 1,000 children are slated to be vaccinated this Saturday (Nov. 20) on the grounds of the Shelby County Schools Board of Education. SCS and the health department have teamed up for a special COVID-19 vaccination event.
“We had 1,000 slots, and every one of them is taken,” said Randolph. “But families can still bring their children down to (the Health Department at) 814 Jefferson Ave. to receive the vaccine. We anticipate having more special events for children to get their vaccinations. Walgreen and CVS Pharmacies, pediatricians and primary care providers are also administering the vaccine.”
Although the Pfizer vaccine for children is given in two shots, three weeks apart, the substance for tikes is a milder dosage and administered with a smaller needle. The vaccine is actually one-third the dose given to adolescents and adults.
Clinical trials to test the children’s vaccine began in late July 2020. Test subjects were ages 12 and over. Participants, ages 12-15, numbered 2,259; and 754 were 16 and 17. Studies continued to test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in children younger than 12.
The Whites felt that because Sam keeps such a vigorous schedule and is daily exposed to so many people, it was wise to get him vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Sam’s activities include piano, basketball, karate and book touring. Many will remember Sam rapping his way into viral stardom and “The Ellen Show with his video, “ABCs – What You Can Be.” The rap is now a book and Sam is now a published author.
Parents bringing children in for vaccinations may also receive the adult shots, if they have not been vaccinated and wish to do so.
(For more information, call: 901-222-9000.)