Eight-year-old Jasmine Van Horne is not normally keen on shots, but the promise of the fun she’ll once again be able to share in was all she needed to line up for the first pediatric vaccinations in Curry County. Her 10-year-old brother, Jordan, was right there beside her.
“I was happy because my son has special needs,” said mom Sarah Kaplansky. “He’s considered non-verbal. If he gets sick, we don’t always know what he is feeling. We communicated to him that if he got vaccinated, he could go back to school. That makes him happy. The same for Jasmine. She’s missing out on sleepovers and birthday parties. She normally freaks out about shots, but she took a chance. She was very excited.”
The vaccination clinic was held at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Brookings, where COVID-19 vaccinations and tests are offered twice weekly. On Saturday, the hours between 10 a.m. and noon were reserved for kids. Twenty-eight youngsters between the ages of 5 and 11 got their first doses of Pfizer pediatric in the church basement, where they also made pinwheels and slappy bracelets, and indulged in a cookie or two.
As of Sunday, a total of 5,257 children in Oregon received their first doses. Distribution of the pediatric vaccine is expected to ramp up, making it available for all eligible Oregon kids. St. Timothy’s pastor, Bernie Lindley, is ready for more.
“A lot of this was word of mouth,” he said. “Until we had it in our hands, we didn’t want to advertise, so we didn’t until Friday night. We’re certainly going to advertise for next Saturday. We’re brainstorming for an event right now. You know how they do balloon animals at birthday parties? We would do a vaccination party. We heard of this happening in San Francisco, and we’d certainly be willing to do it here.”
The church’s efforts have had a wide-reaching impact, said Sarah, who admits to being so happy to see her kids protected, she cried.
“I’m just really thankful for what they’ve done,” she said. “They do amazing things. They even had the flu vaccine. They make it so readily available for our community. They are truly doing good work trying to keep our community healthy.”
You can find a vaccine provider near you at Get Vaccinated Oregon.