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Children’s Mercy Hospital kicks off COVID-19 vaccine clinic for hundreds of Kansas City-area kids

Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
Isaac Mesimer, a 5-year-old, is held by his father for his first dose of the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

Children's Mercy Hospital gave 600 children their shot of the COVID-19 vaccine as doses become more widespread across the Kansas City region.

Young children in Kansas City lined up this weekend to be one of the first to get their dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Children’s Mercy Hospital held a vaccine clinic for children between the ages of 5-11. The 600 available slots for the clinic at its Overland Park location rapidly filled up in less than two hours after it opened.

Silas Mesimer, a 7-year-old from Lee’s Summit, was one of the hundreds of kids who received a shot on Saturday.

“It didn’t really hurt,” said Mesimer. “I don’t need my mask on for this whole year.”

Kansas City dropped its citywide mask mandate this week, but is still requiring masks in schools to give younger children more time to get vaccinated now that they’re eligible.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Pfizer's low-dose COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, and doses will become more readily available to Kansas City-area kids in the coming weeks.

Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
Families line up at Children's Mercy Hospital in Overland Park as they wait for their child to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Mesimer’s parents said they had been waiting more than 18 months to get their two sons, Silas and Isaac, vaccinated. They said it’s been difficult being extra cautious with their kids when enrolling them in activities and getting out of the house.

“I'm looking forward to the lowering of just the stress level. There's a little bit of stress over almost every choice we're making, and it'll be a relief to not have to think about that repeatedly,” Dan Mesimer said.

Their mother, Courtney, said they tried to prepare their sons for the shot by beginning to talk about how important the vaccine was as soon as it was available for adults. When packages would arrive in the mail, her sons would ask if it contained their shots.

Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
A Children's Mercy Hospital nurse uses a "shot blocker" to reduce seven-year-old Silas Mesimer's anxiety before he gets his vaccine.

Still, a 5-year-old, Isaac was more nervous than his brother when it was his turn to get his shot.

That’s why Children’s Mercy doctors said they employ a number of distraction techniques to reduce anxiety. They use a cold spray to numb their arms, “shot blockers” which help distract the brain from the injection site and even light up toys that kids can hold.

Dr. Ryan McDonough, the physician lead for the hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine clinics, said that while there were some tears shed on Saturday, many were out of happiness.

“We are seeing patients come in asking for a vaccine at 5 years old. If you had told me I was going to see that as a pediatrician, I would never believe that,” McDonough said. “I had an 8-year-old today tell me thank you on the way out after a vaccine. That is just unheard of and we are just so excited to be a part of it.”

Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
Levi Goldesby, a 10 year old from Olathe, waits with his family for 15 minutes after he got his dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Levi Goldesby, a 10-year-old from Olathe, said he was excited to get his shot so that he could stop wearing his mask in certain places and start traveling again with his family.

More than that, he said he also wanted to keep others safe.

“If I didn't get the vaccine, I wouldn’t be protecting people, then people could get COVID and I could possibly get COVID,” Goldesby said.

His mother, Jenna Goldesby, said her family used to travel frequently before the pandemic hit, and they were excited to have more freedom now that their two eligible sons are vaccinated. Just one of their sons, a 4-year-old, is still ineligible for the vaccine.

McDonough recommended that any parent who is hesitant about getting a dose for their child has a conversation with their primary care doctor or pediatrician.

“We want to make sure that you understand the risks and benefits, but we know this is a safe, effective vaccine. We know it prevents and decreases hospitalization and decreases the risk of death,” McDonough.

Starting Monday, weekday clinics for vaccinations will be open at the Children’s Mercy Adele Hall Campus and Children’s Mercy Broadway location from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday. A list of weekend clinics are also available online. You can call 816-302-6300 to make an appointment.

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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