KALAMAZOO, Mich. — This weekend, hundreds of West Michigan kids joined the fight against COVID-19, receiving their first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine after U.S. health officials expanded eligibility to include those ages 12 and older.
Next to the Pfizer plant producing millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses each week, kids in West Michigan put the shots to good use on Sunday.
450 kids, ages 12 to 15, were inoculated at a clinic hosted by Bronson Healthcare.
Iman Effendi, his twin sister Zayna, and their family want normalcy, as the girls spent most of last year at home to protect those around them.
“To go to school and so we can finally see our friends," said Iman on why she wanted to get vaccinated. "We’ve been at home the whole time.”
Courtney Converse gave her sons a say in the matter, the two boys listing similar reasons as to why they signed up after U.S. health officials expanded eligibility.
“We were very excited they were going to get a chance," Converse said. “To protect them and to protect others. To be able to participate in school and sports and see their friends and just be able to hopefully move forward.”
Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies with Bronson noted the most recent surge in the state proportionately impacted kids as it did adults.
2,000 of the system's pediatric patients tested positive, with an estimated 5-10 developing MIS-C, a rare inflammatory disease.
Pediatricians like Dr. Lane-Davies say if large groups of kids do not get vaccinated, it could prolong the pandemic.
“It tells us that the disease spreads easily among children," Dr. Lane-Davies said. "When we think about school and athletics, these are points of time when people are in close contact with one another, so seeing the infection spread so easily amongst children in those settings, is yet another reason that we need to include them in vaccination effort. Make sure they’re protected, make sure their family is protected.”
Bronson plans to partner with multiple organizations to offer more clinics like today's in the future.
Any parent hesitant to allow their child to get the shot should talk to their doctor.