Kids ages 12 to 15 start getting COVID-19 vaccine

“It’s like a light at the end of the tunnel,” said one 12-year-old boy as he waited in line Thursday morning with his mom at a vaccination site next to Wrigley Field, which opened at 8 a.m.

SHARE Kids ages 12 to 15 start getting COVID-19 vaccine
A 15-year-old getting their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Rush University Medical Center in May on the first day children in that age group were eligible.

Christian Clettenberg, 15, gets a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday morning at Rush University Medical Center.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times


“It’s like a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Liam Samet, 12, as he walked into a vaccination site near Wrigley Field early Thursday — the first day kids in the 12-to-15-year-old age group were eligible for inoculation.

“COVID has been going on for a long while now, so it’s really exciting to get my vaccine. I’m looking forward to hanging out with my friends because I’ve talked to my them a lot online so it will be just really nice to be able to see them in person again,” said Liam, who lives downtown and attends Skinner North Elementary School.

Liam Samet, 12, waits outside Wrigley Field on Thursday morning before getting his COVID-19 vaccination.

Liam Samet, 12, waits outside Wrigley Field on Thursday morning before getting his COVID-19 vaccination.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Zara Smejkal, also 12, said she was looking forward to more normalcy in playing hockey and baseball, eating out, hanging with pals and traveling.

“It’s kind of nice because I won’t have to worry about COVID as much any more once I get the vaccine,” said Zara, who also attends Skinner North.

Both kids arrived with their moms shortly after the vaccination site in the American Airlines Conference Center at Gallagher Way, run by Advocate Aurora Health, opened Thursday morning. The building is next to Wrigley Field.

There’s little that Christian Clettenberg, 15, is looking forward to more than sitting on a couch, spitting distance from friends, and basking in the shared joy of picking off zombies with a variety of video game weapons.

“I’m just really excited,” said Clettenberg, a 15-year-old sophomore at Brother Rice High School who received a jab Thursday at Rush University Medical Center.

Tessa Roy, 12, of Deerfield, is eager to stretch her vocal cords in musicals on a stage. During the pandemic, shows have been relegated to outdoor venues, like a lawn. And in an effort to limit any germs spread by singing, participants had to lip synch to their pre-recorded voices.

She practiced her dramatics Thursday before getting a shot. “My arm hurts. My arm hurts,” she told her mother, Joy Sclamberg, a physician at Rush.

“I’m also looking forward to sleepovers and making TikTok dance videos with my friends,” said Tessa.

Matthew Liebl, who got his shot at Rush Thursday, was stoked to once again go sneaker shopping at a mall.

“I want to check out the new Jordans and Air Max 90s,” said Liebl, 15, a sophomore at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for kids 12 to 15 on Tuesday and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on the plan Wednesday.

The vaccine is available through pharmacies, private providers and at vaccination sites run by the city.

The F.D.A. declared the Pfizer vaccine safe, saying it offers strong protection for younger adolescents based on testing of more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers, ages 12 to 15.

The study found no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among kids given dummy shots. More intriguing, researchers found the kids developed higher levels of virus-fighting antibodies than earlier studies measured in young adults.

The younger teens received the same vaccine dosage as adults and had the same side effects, mostly sore arms and flu-like fever, chills or aches that signal a revved-up immune system, especially after the second dose.

Dash Wilson, 13, of Orland Park, was practical about getting jabbed.

“I wouldn’t say I was excited to come in, I’m glad I did come in. I don’t really want the virus,” he said after getting his first shot at Rush.

His mom, however, was thrilled.

“He hasn’t done anything,” Michelle Clairmont Wilson said of her son, who has pre-existing medical conditions.

“He’s been a bit of a boy in a bubble for a year. We haven’t eaten out once. We went to one store to buy sneakers and almost had a panic attack.”

Contributing: Associated Press

People wait in line to get vaccinated against COVID-19 outside the American Airlines Conference Center at Gallagher Way in the Wrigleyville neighborhood,

The vaccination site at the American Airlines Conference Center at Gallagher Way next to Wrigley Field opened at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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