Getting a shot is never fun, no matter how old you are. When the Frederick County’s Department of Health started running COVID-19 vaccine clinics for children ages 5-11, the county’s public library system stepped in to help children smile.
Frederick County Public Libraries attended the Department of Health’s 800 Oak St. Vaccine Clinic Saturday with a clear mission in mind: to keep children smiling. There were also library staff as iconic characters like Elsa from “Frozen” and Darth Vader.
And since they came from the library, of course they brought loads of books with them.
Heather Hart, director of childcare at Walkersville Branch Library, wore an inflatable unicorn costume that was the star of the show with dozens of smiling eyes fixed on her.
Without a costume, Hart spoke about how the FCPL and FCHD came to their partnership.
“A colleague came up with the idea, and we thought, ‘Of course, what better way to help the community and the kids than just getting out there and being distracted and having fun,'” Hart said.
About halfway through the clinic on Saturday, Hart said she believed the librarians’ costumes and puppetry helped distract the kids from the jab.
“They love it,” she said. “You wouldn’t even know some of them had their shots.
“You spot the unicorn from across the room and it’s full on the unicorn until the end,” she added with a laugh. “That is very much appreciated by the children and the parents.”
Valentina Conte, a student at Lewistown Elementary School, was one of the children who were vaccinated on Saturday. She described the process as painless.
“I was a little nervous to be honest,” she said. “But when I got it, it wasn’t that bad. It was like a little pinch … It just went in and came out. “
Valentina’s mother, Alejandra Conte, said the process was pretty streamlined.
“The process is very smooth,” she said, adding that she had come to the same clinic multiple times, previously with an older daughter who was able to get the COVID-19 vaccine earlier. “It all went the same, quick and quick … and since it’s for the kids, they have entertainment and characters, which made the process more enjoyable.”
Conte said it was important to bring your daughter to get the injection.
“It’s a health problem, it’s nothing else,” she said. “It is important to me that she is protected.”
According to Shawn Dennison, Public Affairs Officer for the Department of Health, vaccinating children of this age group is vital to the immunity of the entire community.
“It’s important; we’re talking about nearly 23,000 Frederick Counties between the ages of 5 and 11,” he said. “It’s important to have clinics available for that age group.”
Dennison said the FCHD will have a special vaccination clinic just for children every Saturday through December and occasionally other days. Currently, in addition to the Saturday appointments, the FCHD has a vaccination clinic for children aged 5 to 11, which is scheduled for both November 29 and November 30 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Dennison said it was necessary to separate children’s clinics from others as a precautionary measure, as children receive a lower dose of the vaccine than adults. Currently, Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one approved for this age group, Dennison said.
Anyone hesitant to get the vaccine for either themselves or their children should speak to people who have already received the vaccine, Dennison said.
“The information is out there. The CDC, the Department of Health, the Maryland Department of Health, it’s all out there, “he said. “But what we tell people is to talk to someone who has been vaccinated, to someone who has their children vaccinated, to talk to them a little about their experience, to talk to them about the experience that made them get it Has.”
Hart, meanwhile, recommended using the library as a source of medical information.
“We’re here to help you find resources or direct you to a contact if you have additional questions, such as the health department,” she said.
Follow Patrick Kernan on Twitter: @PatKernan