For local parent Mike Brinker, watching his 3-year-old son, Luke, finally get his COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday was an emotional experience.
"He actually has two major medical issues: he's got a hole in his heart, and he has only one kidney," a teary-eyed Brinker told this news organization. "So we had no idea throughout this virus what would even happen if he got it. To have two and a half years of just 'we don't know' — and the socialization, the lack of it, not having him go out and be able to hang out with other kids — it's just been really hard. This is a big deal."
Brinker's son is one of a few hundred children ages 6 months to 5 years old who have received their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Santa Clara County Public Health Department's newest vaccination site in Mountain View, which opened Tuesday. The site at 435 San Antonio Road is currently open by appointment. Anyone 6 months or older can now receive a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 shot following approvals last week from two federal agencies: the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This site came up very quickly," said Sheila Tuna, director of COVID-19 mass testing and operations. "We just signed the lease last Tuesday and transformed it and opened it up into a vaccine clinic within the week, because we knew these approvals were coming really quickly."
Parent Margot du Manoir said the vaccination site couldn't have come at a better time for her family. Her 2-year-old daughter, Hannah, got her shot on Wednesday.
"We're traveling on Saturday to a different country for a trip that we've been waiting for for three years," du Manoir said. "She's 2 and a half and she hasn't met family. It's just starting to feel like maybe we can do things safely and be OK."
Kids as young as 6 months, the youngest age allowed to get inoculated, got their shots on Wednesday. Parent Jon Thacker said it was a relief to know his 6-month-old son, Sebastian, could get the vaccine so early in his life. As licensed vocational nurse Monica Somawang administered the shot, Sebastian barely noticed the needle go in and didn't bat an eye.
"We can feel a little bit better about going out into the world," Thacker said.
As parents arrived with toddlers in tow on Wednesday, they moved quickly and efficiently through the site with little to no wait time or line. The check-in process takes a few minutes before patients move into the vaccination area. There's a recommended 15 minute waiting period after receiving the shot, and the site has tables set up where kids can doodle while they wait.
"We're excited for people coming out to get their children vaccinated," Tuna said. "This is the last group that we've been waiting for, so a lot of excited children are coming out here and we're happy to have this open for the community."
Appointments can be made online at vax.sccgov.org, or by calling the Valley Connection Call Center 408-970-2000. All are welcome regardless of immigration or insurance status.