Seventh-graders excited to get vaccinated
Although it was a gloomy Saturday morning in the Claremont Village, spirits were high as teens lined up in the alleyway next to Hendricks Pharmacy to receive their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The special clinic prioritized youths in the community and came just days after Los Angeles County gave the go-ahead for kids 12 and up to receive their first shot.
Brian Garner, the pharmacy’s owner, said that Hendricks has offered routine vaccines for years, and that they have been administering the Johnson & Johnson shots to adults since April 1.
Now with clearance to offer the vaccine to younger teens, last Thursday was the first day the pharmacy began vaccinating those age 12 and older against COVID-19. Since May 4, Hendricks has been administering the Pfizer vaccine.
“We’ve hit a lot of the adults already and we’re kind of starting to saturate that group. Now it’s time to focus on the teenagers and then right after them would be the children,” Mr. Garner said. “We’ve been doing [vaccines] about 15 years now. As soon as there was talk of a vaccine a year ago, I knew we were going to be able to do it. It was only a matter of when.”
Also on Thursday, Mr. Garner said the pharmacy received state approval to administer COVID-19 vaccines, meaning people can now register for appointments at Hendricks on the state’s MyTurn website.
Although the pharmacy had applied for both state and federal approval earlier in the year, Mr. Garner said they received federal approval first. He explained that state approval took significantly longer as the city of Claremont was not high on the state’s priority vaccine distribution list due to the community’s high inoculation numbers.
“When the state had to decide who give [vaccines] to, that was a nightmare,” Mr. Garner said. “If I had a pharmacy in a different location then yes, I would have gotten it earlier.”
“A colleague of mine in Van Nuys got his two months ago, but there was a need in Van Nuys higher than there was in Claremont,” he explained. “Claremont residents are very eager and capable of going wherever they can find them and get the vaccine done.”
With federal approval however, Hendricks was allocated approximately 1,170 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on May 1.
Equipped with the minimum shipment order, he said on Saturday, the clinic was able to distribute 175 to 180 first doses to teens, and during Friday and Saturday vaccinated a total of about 300 people.
According to Mr. Garner, even before the green light to vaccinate younger teens, the pharmacy was planning to host the clinic as the county’s decision appeared imminent.
“We opened up our [vaccination] calendar for this weekend the moment we knew that teenagers were going to be approved,” Mr. Garner said. “In the moment, we knew it was going to be approved. Then I started planning for this weekend cause I knew this would be a very, very hot topic.”
On Saturday, the clinic had approximately 210 people scheduled for vaccination appointments, including lifelong friends and seventh-graders from El Roble intermediate school, Mahalia Crawford and Ruth Gomez.
Mahalia said she and her friends were actually excited about getting the vaccine; and mentioned it helped that the needle didn’t hurt when going into her arm.
“Mine was not very bad. I really didn’t feel a thing,” Mahalia said. “I haven’t felt anything, it was only a couple of minutes ago so my arm hasn’t been hurting. Nothing really has been happening.”
“It didn’t really hurt that much. It felt like a small pinch,” Ruth said. “I feel happy because I was lucky enough to get the vaccine this early for my age.”
Sharing their daughters’ excitement were mothers Christine Quintana-Savage, Marie Crawford and Kristine Kawamura. Chatting with the trio, Ms. Quintana-Savage and the others agreed that rather than being anxious about the shot, the girls were actually begging them to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
“They talk among themselves with FaceTime and texting, they were all 100 percent in,” Ms. Quintana-Savage said. “My daughter goes, ‘Mom this is the first time I’m excited to get a shot.’ It was just ‘green light’ from the day she heard we could get it.”
“We’ve tried our best to keep them safe and now it’s like everything’s opening up. There are no words that can express a mother’s excitement to give the world back to your kid,” she added.
Ms. Kawamura described her daughter’s vaccine as a giant step towards normalcy, and became emotional when she spoke about how the lifelong friends will finally be able to get together again for summer parties for the first time in over a year.
“They’ve supported each other as friends. They dance online, they text each other and now it’s like they can step forward and be in relationship face-to-face with their friends,” Ms. Kawamura said. “It is an unbelievably happy moment. You just listen to our girls talking and laughing and being excited and seeing each other—this is giving them their world back.”
In the coming days, those who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccination can do so by making an appointment online at Hendricks Pharmacy by going to the tab labeled COVID-19 Vaccine.
Though spots may be limited depending on the day chosen, Mr. Garner said the pharmacy aims to vaccinate 50 to 70 participants per day.
By Andrew Alonzo | firstname.lastname@example.org