NORFOLK, Va. - The CDC is accepting the recommendation of their advisory panel and is now recommending the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people as young as 12.
In Norfolk, 12-year-old Sai Bhasin and 14-year-old Auro Bhasin were the first in line on Thursday morning to receive their shot.
Afterwards, Sai said, "We all wanted to get vaccinated. I was excited to get the process of being more immune to the virus."
Brother Auro agreed and added, "The flu shot probably hurt more than the COVID vaccine."
The siblings are the latest in their family to get vaccinated, following behind their parents and 16-year-old brother.
The vaccine previously had been approved for use in those 16 and older. Two other COVID-19 vaccines are available for people 18 and older.
Auro said his reason for wanting to get the shot is, "Mostly because it's the right thing to do, but also because I want to be able to hang out with my friends more and go on a trip soon."
After the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Wednesday afternoon to recommend the vaccine's use in 12- to-15-year-olds, the CDC agreed. Hours later, Virginia began administering the shots to kids like Amilyn and Carolyn Estes of Norfolk.
12-year-old Carolyn said, "I was kind of surprised that it went so fast and didn't hurt."
Sister, Amilya said, "We went and we just got it and it didn’t hurt - like, at all - which was kind of surprising, and then we just sat there for 15 minutes and did like croup arm exercises so that was about it."
Deputy Site Manager for Military Circle Mall's Community Vaccination Clinic Tim Smith said they're encouraged by the number of young people taking advantage already.
"[We've seen] a lot of eager parents and children come in and get vaccinated. They see that this is a path to helping the country recover to getting back to some of the more normal activities," Smith said.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, in the Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trial with about 2,000 participants aged 12–15, the vaccine was found to be 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 occurring at least seven days after the second dose.
"I'm excited for the ability to travel again. That's going to be really fun - something I missed - and going back to school, hopefully without masks sometime soon," said Amilyn Estes.
Anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 that want to get a vaccine will need to have a parent or guardian with them, and that parent or guardian will need to have a valid form of ID.
"It is a medical procedure, so any minor getting a medical procedure has to have permission from your parents. So parents, you need to be here with your 17 and below children," Smith said.
The FEMA-run vaccination clinic at Military Circle Mall will be closing on May 22, but people who received their first shot will still be able to get their second dose at another location.
Smith said, "We will register anyone that gets their first shot here so they will have a guaranteed appointment to get their second shot."
Halfway to the finish line, Estes wants other kids to know that, "If it's open for us, we might as well [get it done] because everyone's talking about, like, herd immunity, so we might as well play a part in it."
Administration of the vaccine in adolescents will be the same as in adults: given in two doses, separated by 21 days. Adolescents are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the second dose. Side effects in this age group included pain or redness in the arm where the vaccine is given, fatigue, fever and muscle aches.
On Thursday morning, State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said COVID-19 vaccines can be co-administered with other vaccines. However, private providers should consider the other vaccines a child may be scheduled to take.
The Virginia Department of Health has also spent the week meeting with superintendents across the state in order to establish plans to open school-based vaccination clinics.