RICHMOND, Va. - The coronavirus vaccine rollout is now underway across Central Virginia for children ages five to 11 following the CDC's approval of Pfizer's request for emergency use authorization of its vaccine for that age group.
9-year-old Grayson Walker is ready to take on the world after receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday morning.
"I feel like I can do anything," Grayson said. "I can go any place at any time."
His mother Amy said she signed him up for an appointment at the Rockwood Vaccination Clinic in Chesterfield County online Wednesday evening.
"He's the most important thing to us, so we couldn't wait," she said.
Amy and Grayson explained the process couldn't have been any smoother.
"Got in there nice and early in the morning," Amy said. "It was pretty easy and quick."
"She embarrassed me a little," Grayson said talking about his mother. "She went, 'I don't know if you're going to be able to take that shot with all that muscle,'" he laughed.
When asked how he took it, he answered: "Good."
Amy described the moment as surreal, saying she feels a sense of relief knowing her son will have more protection from coronavirus at school and won't be forced to quarantine if there's an exposure.
“Every time I get one of those notifications from the school, my heart jumps a little bit," Amy said. “Makes me feel a whole lot better, take a deep breath.”
CBS 6 was also inside the vaccination room for an 11-year-old named Noah who got his first shot at the Richmond City Health District's building.
Noah said he was a little nervous leading up to it but felt good afterward. The whole process lasted a few minutes and the vaccine administrator warmed him up with conversation and questions like "What grade are you in?"
“I’m just excited for some sense of normalcy coming back," said Noah's mother, Kia Moore. “He’s an athlete, so he’s been waiting to play in some tournaments and experience some things, so we were ready to move on."
Both Grayson and Noah received different shots than the ones for those ages 12 and older.
Doses for children five to 11 are a third of the size and are labeled orange. That's different than vials and syringes for older children and adults which are purple.
Workers at the Richmond Health District told CBS 6 the process reduces the chances for error. They also use a color-coded system with signs on the doors of vaccination rooms that match the color of their shot.
The Richmond-Henrico Health Districts have 5,100 Pfizer doses for children five to 11 for the first wave of vaccinations. Most of them were sent to pharmacies and pediatricians, which covers about 12% of the health district's population of kids five to 11. Health officials said appointments will be limited in the first and second weeks, but many more will open up later in the month.
The Chesterfield Health District, which also covers Powhatan and Colonial Heights, has 16,000 to 17,000 doses which cover about 50% of the same age demographic.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 60% of American parents don't want to have their children vaccinated or they want to wait. Local health officials said they expect more parents to get their kids vaccinated as they see others taking that step. It's a trend similar to the rollout of vaccines for children ages 12 to 17.
For parents who might be on the fence, Moore and Walker offered some words of encouragement.
“I would say, go ahead and take the leap, and have faith that things are going to work out," Walker said.
“Go for it," said Moore. "Help the kids get back to some life as they’ve known it.”