Benton clinic distributes COVID-19 vaccine to kids

Ellie+Samms%2C+six%2C+shows+no+fear+as+she+glares+at+the+camera+and+receives+her+first+dose+of+the+COVID-19+vaccine.+NLMUSD+hosted+a+vaccine+clinic+at+Benton+Middle+School+on+Nov.+13%2C+2021.+

Vincent Medina

Ellie Samms, six, shows no fear as she “glares at the camera” and receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. NLMUSD hosted a vaccine clinic at Benton Middle School on Nov. 13, 2021.

Vincent Medina

Benton Middle School provided the COVID-19 vaccine to the community and to kids under 11 years old on Saturday. The site is part of Norwalk La – Mirada Unified School District’s next series of free COVID vaccine clinics.

The district is partnering with the LA County Department of Public Health and Albertsons to host vaccine sites at middle schools in the district.

The CDC and the FDA authorized Pfizer to distribute the vaccine to children older than five years old earlier this month.

Parents in the community took advantage of the free clinic and immunized their children against the virus.

Most kids at the clinic were not eager to get the shot, but they understood that getting vaccinated was important.

US Army veteran and Cerritos College alumna Eden Samms brought her two children to receive their first dose and her sister and mother to receive the booster.

“When I was in Iraq, I received the anthrax vaccine, and I didn’t want to get it, but at the end of the day it was for my protection,” said Samms. “The vaccine mandates are here to protect people, like with the measles and chickenpox.”

While children contracting COVID is uncommon, Samms did not want to take the risk.

“They’re going to get older. It may be uncommon in kids now, but why put them at risk when they get older?” said the mother of two. “While it’s rare, it’s not unheard of, they can still get the virus.”

While most of the younger kids were nervous as they sat down to get the shot, Samms’ daughter Ellie, six, showed no fear as she was vaccinated.

“It was just a little pinch,” Ellie said.

Vivian Grace,11, sixth-grader at Benton, and her sister also received their first dose of the vaccine.

“It hurt a little bit,” said the sixth-grader. “Some of my friends are vaccinated, and my Mom tells me about the pandemic.”

As the nurse placed the band-aid on her injection site and recommended drinking fluids, Grace suggested Starbucks to her mother.

“The pandemic isn’t political, it’s science,” said Carol Grace, Vivian’s mother.

Mrs. Grace says her family is “living low” during the pandemic, only interacting with a small group of people.

“Now that they’re vaccinated, I feel more comfortable with opening our bubble a bit more,” said Grace. “We’ve had family members pass, and the illnesses are still big risks.”

Governor Gavin Newsome announced in October that COVID-19 vaccines will be required for all students in the state after it receives full FDA approval.

However, public information officer Chris Hargraves emphasized that the vaccine was voluntary for students in the district.

“The Governor’s order probably won’t take effect until July. We are just offering the vaccine to people if they wish,” said the public information officer. “These clinics are not tied to any mandate. It’s completely voluntary.”

He says it was important for the district to help get kids vaccinated before winter.

“We wanted to give the community another chance to get vaccinated, especially with the holidays coming up,” said Hargraves.

Doctors predict that COVID cases may rise in November and December due to holiday travel.

NLMUSD hosted a physician’s session webinar, so doctors could answer the community’s questions about COVID and ease their minds about the vaccine.

Another vaccine site was held the same day at Waite Middle School. Both vaccine clinics will return on Dec. 4, so patients can receive their second dose.

Corvallis, Los Alisos, and Hutchinson Middle Schools will host vaccine clinics on Dec. 11.