With a baby Yoda mask covering his nose and mouth, six-year-old Emmanuel Jones sat calmly in a chair after he received a COVID-19 vaccine in his left arm on Monday.
Minutes later, his five-year-old sister Miracle Epps, wearing a pink Paw Patrol mask, blinked only once as she waited and then got her shot in the arm.
The children’s guardian, Doris Jackson of Brandywine, said they earned a trip to McDonald’s.
“Yes!” Miracle yelled with glee before leaving a clinic at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden.
Jackson and her children became three of the first to visit a clinic where children ages 5 to 11 can join the nationwide effort to receive the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that received federal approval last week.
The Prince George’s County Health Department will oversee clinics housed at 37 elementary and 15 high schools. About 300 people pre-registered for Monday’s clinic in Glenarden.
Children who received the first dose at one of the elementary or high schools may return three weeks later to get the second and final dose.
Availability for the first doses at the high schools are scheduled through Nov 24 and the second dose by Dec. 15. Appointments can be made for the first dose at one of the elementary schools until Dec. 23 and a second dose by Jan. 13.
Health officials said the clinics aren’t just focused on the younger children.
Residents 12 and older who remain unvaccinated can receive a shot in the arm at clinics housed at the schools and at the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover.
Although appointments are encouraged, walk-ins will still be accepted.
Brian Marr of Landover brought his 10-year-old daughter, Brena, to Judge Sylvania Woods to receive a vaccine. He’s even more pleased she got the vaccine after contracting COVID-19 twice.
Brena, who’s enrolled in the fifth-grade at Cora Rice Elementary in Landover, said she experienced a slight loss in her “taste buds.” She credits her mother in reviving her back to health with medicine, wearing a mask in the house and sharing healthy doses of love.
As for the vaccine shot in the arm, she said, “It didn’t hurt like I thought it would.”
“I wanted her to be protected as much as possible,” Brena’s father said. “I’m satisfied with her getting it.”
‘A Very Big Deal’
Children in the 5 to 11 age group represent about 515,000 in the state of Maryland. About 180,000 doses are expected to be distributed throughout the state in the next several weeks.
Dr. George Askew said Thursday the county’s Health Department received more than 10,000 doses so far which are now ready to be administered to those children.
It’s also important for Prince George’s children to receive vaccines because the majority Black jurisdiction continues to lead the state with the most confirmed cases. As of Thursday, county data shows 101,125 confirmed cases.
As of Monday, a county map shows the three lowest vaccination rates based on zip code data include 20748 (Temple Hill, 62%); 20747 (District Heights, 64.1%); and 20746 (Suitland, 64.7%). All three communities are located inside the Beltway.
The same map shows three of the highest vaccine rates are in the zip codes of 20769 (Glenn Dale, 99.1%); 20707 (Laurel, 95.4%); and 20781 (Hyattsville, 94.3%).
The zip code data is based on residents ages 12 and older who have received as least one dose of the vaccine.
That’s why Askew, a pediatrician and the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for health, human services and education, said children in Prince George’s being able to receive a vaccine “is a very big deal.”
He said vaccine clinics will soon be available at some of the county’s local libraries, especially with many of libraries and schools within walking distance of residential neighborhoods.
He also offered some advice for parents: call your child’s pediatrician, call a local CVS pharmacy or check online with mobile clinics throughout the county.
“We’re going to continue to do what we’ve done throughout the pandemic and that is to take vaccines to the people,” Askew said. “We’re going to . . . places where folks are comfortable going to [so] they can get vaccinated.”