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Hundreds of people show up for the first time in a series of Student Health vaccination clinics for children aged 5-11


November 18, 2021

Liliama Alcantara-Barrios and her children joined a line of families that stretched from the gym door, down the hall and outside in the wind and cold November evening. His son Lucas, 6, is said to be among 350 children receiving their first COVID-19 vaccine at the Student Health Center vaccination clinic – the country’s first major vaccination event for children ages 5 to 11.

The entire Alcantara-Barrios family were the early supporters of the COVID-19 vaccine for adults – perhaps unsurprisingly; after all, Alcantara-Barrios is a nurse at East County Health Center. And her sister, Bri Barrios Giron, is a medical assistant at the Student Health Center at Reynolds High School and has been administering the vaccine to teenagers for months.

Alcantara-Barrios said it had no concerns about the adult vaccine, which is approved under federal emergency use authorization. Yet when it came to vaccinating her children, she hesitated.

“I was nervous at first,” she says. “So I spoke to many vendors I work with and got to a place where I felt good. And Lucas has asthma, so he really needs it.

Lucas’s little sister Brielle, who is not yet old enough for a vaccine, danced nearby as they waited for their Aunt Bri to call them. Their aunt pulled each child in for a hug, then got down to her job. In the blink of an eye, Lucas was done (Brielle received a bandage in solidarity).

“Thanks, tia,” Lucas said and waved before flying off to see what goodies were displayed on the tables nearby.

Joshua Ellis, a first grader at Patrick Lynch Elementary, stood in line with his father, Floyd. Joshua squirmed, eager to get down to business and celebrate his shot.

“And after my shot, I get ice cream, and my dad and I are going to keep building a Lego robot,” he said. “He has six arms.

Floyd Ellis said he was convinced the vaccine was safe and would protect his son. “I was more worried that they would open schools before the vaccine was available to children,” he said.

Mohammed Hassan Mohammed was also convinced that the vaccine would protect his children. He has been vaccinated for a long time and is now considering receiving his booster. He was eager for the vaccine to be available for his two children, Fahma and Hamza.

“I know it works and it will help protect them,” he said. “It will make it easier to get around, so we don’t have to get tested all the time. “

Six-year-old Tasneem Najieb was not keen on getting the vaccine; even after the end – even with the allure of sweet rewards: cotton candy ice cream and hot chocolate with extra whipped cream. Her older brother Noah, who is in first year, was only slightly more excited about the specter of dessert for dinner.

But their mother, Nadira, hugged them and enthusiastically thanked the staff.

“I fully support vaccines. My group of friends, we all have children. We have all been vaccinated, ”she said. “We want to put all of this beyond us, to get back to normal. ”

For Nadira and her group, normalcy will translate into a series of seemingly straightforward events, like maskless dates with other vaccinated children. Until that day comes, however, they will continue to wear masks around their friends indoors and enjoy outdoor adventures.

“It will help us not to feel so nervous,” she said.

Standing by the exit, Katie Strawn checked out the kids in the viewing area after the shot and chatted with the families as they prepared to leave – for ice cream and hot chocolate and for burritos steamers distributed to the Burrito Bar truck just outside the door.

“We all went into medicine, community health, and public health for a reason, for this,” said Strawn, medical director of the nine student health centers in Multnomah County. “It’s been two horrible years. But to see this – the beginning of the end of COVID. “

All Multnomah County youth between the ages of 5 and 19 can get the vaccine at any time Location of the student health center. And click here to learn more about other ways to get vaccinated against COVID-19.