INDIANAPOLIS — Less than 24 hours after getting the green light approval, parents raced to get their younger children between the ages of five and 11 vaccinated against COVID-19.
And while some families are opposed to or hesitant about getting the vaccine, medical experts say this could be a major step in ending the pandemic.
The emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine makes another 28 million Americans eligible to get vaccinated. That means 98% of the country can now get a shot.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said children accounted for a quarter of all new COVID-19 cases last week. CDC predictions show vaccinating children could reduce COVID-19 transmission by 8%, preventing about 600,000 potential cases.
Hundreds of pharmacies and vaccine clinics are preparing to distribute the pediatric vaccine.
At clinics in Speedway, Noblesville, and Fishers, kids were excited to get their turn.
"We're excited and it's well worth the wait," said Lee Ernst, a parent.
After battling COVID-19 for nearly two years, Hoosier families say they can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"We're just kind of excited and I think it's kind of our best track to try to work to the end of this whole thing," said Avinash Mantravadi, another parent.
And, just hours after the FDA authorized emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five to 11, parents were ready to bring their kids to vaccine clinics across central Indiana.
"These are happy tears," said eight-year-old Gammon in Noblesville. "I'm the first kid in this county to get vaccinated."
"I was excited to see how many people were in there. I feel like everyone is trying to do their part," said Kelly Panzer, a parent in Fishers.
"Well, COVID-19 could be over quicker, and we could take our mask off at school," said Mantravadi’s daughter at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
There were long lines, but big smiles. For Will Ernst, getting his first dose means he's one step closer to a steak dinner.
"Glad to get it so we could go out to more places," Will said.
"He said that once he was fully vaccinated, he wanted to go to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse," said Lee, Will's mother.
Pfizer's pediatric COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses 21 days apart. Both are about a third of the regular adult vaccine. Pfizer said studies found the vaccine to be nearly 91% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in young children with only mild and temporary side effects, like a sore arm, headaches, or fever.
But not every family is as eager as others. Before the vaccine was authorized, one-third of parents said they wanted to wait and see before vaccinating their kids, while another third has been anxiously awaiting the roll-out, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
"We've been working in healthcare. We know that there's a lot of effort and attention that goes into these studies and everything. So, we've followed it closely and we're excited," Mantravadi said.
The goal is to get as many children vaccinated as possible. You can do so at Indianapolis Motor Speedway until Nov. 20. Tuesday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
Beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, parents across the state can schedule appointments for their children at ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211. That's also where you can find a location to get a first, second, or booster dose of the adult COVID-19 vaccines, as well.