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A new way to celebrate a 12th birthday—get vaccinated!

I’m a numbers person. I use data every day in my job as a community assessment manager for Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. 

Data helps to show us where cases of COVID-19 are the highest in Pierce County and what percentage of Pierce County residents still need vaccine. Data keeps the public informed, so they can make the best decisions about their health.

When I learned my daughter Alice would soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, naturally, I looked at the numbers before making a decision. I was relieved to see data from U.S. clinical trials shows the Pfizer vaccine—the only one currently authorized for children ages 12-15—is very safe for kids in that age range and older, and it will also protect them from getting COVID-19.

Vaccines also reduce their chances of spreading it to someone else. Almost 40 percent of Pierce County is still unvaccinated, which means they are at a much higher risk for getting sick from COVID-19.

Alice Wilson getting vaccinated.

A birthday to remember

I spent my 12th birthday going to the movies to see Grease 2 with my friends. 

This year, my daughter Alice spent her 12th birthday getting her first COVID-19 vaccine shot. I took her to a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Lakewood to get the Pfizer vaccine. 

Before getting her vaccine, Alice had to adjust to a new normal, just like we all did. This past school year, Alice did not go back to school for in-person learning, even when her school started a hybrid approach.

She’s a Junior Olympic gymnast and did most of her workouts and conditioning with online coaching and without equipment. Finding enough space for back handsprings wasn’t always easy.

She also had virtual team meetings. Like most athletes, she missed the friendly competition and inspiration that comes from training side-by-side with teammates.

A vaccine means she and her teammates can go back to the gym to train and compete. She can be with her friends again and do most things without a mask.

My 15-year-old son, Miles, also received the vaccine as soon as he could. When he got his vaccine, his life made a quick change to normalcy. He switched from online to in-person driving lessons, which means he can practice on the road with other vaccinated students from his driving school.

Vaccines for both of my kids mean we can do things together as a family. We can go out in public, enjoy dinners out and know we are protected against COVID-19.

AWILSON_GYM1

Quicker than a cartwheel

Here’s what Alice wants other kids her age to know: “The vaccine doesn’t hurt at all, and it’s just really quick. It felt like a really small shot, and it will make you and everyone around you safer.” 

While everyone’s experience is different, she felt like it was just a tiny shot, and the benefit of not worrying about COVID-19 outweighs the fear of getting a vaccine.

Like all parents, protecting my kids and keeping them healthy is my priority. I also like knowing that getting both of my kids vaccinated helps our entire community move toward immunity. But parents still have questions, and that’s OK.

Talk to someone you trust

Besides looking at data and reading clinical trials, I also spoke to my daughter’s pediatrician who told me about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Find your dose. 

I took  my children to the COVID-19vaccine clinic in Lakewood.

Find your vaccination today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture. Everyone 12 and older is eligible. You can register online or just drop in at any clinic and get vaccinated without an appointment. 

If you need a ride to an appointment or can’t easily leave your home, we can help! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week.

Help stop the spread of COVID-19:
Wear your mask where required.
• If you’re sick, stay home.
Wash your hands frequently.
Get tested if you experience symptoms or were exposed.