Coronavirus Chronicles

Relief at Last: First Kids Under 5 Get Their Covid Shots

The first children in the youngest age group received their Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at Seattle Children's this afternoon.

By Angela Cabotaje June 21, 2022

Cassie Simeona and her son Cade, who is two and a half, await the Covid vaccine.

"It's a Relief." The parents were cradling babies, chasing after their toddlers, and bribing their four-year-olds with snacks, but the refrain was the same: It's a relief.

After waiting over a year from the initial Covid vaccine rollout, kids under five can finally get their shots. The first in the city received theirs this afternoon during a press event at Seattle Children's, where the mood was just about what you'd expect.

For the Children's team—represented by CEO Jeff Sperring, chief medical officer Dr. Ruth McDonald, and pediatric infectious disease division chief Dr. Danielle Zerr—it was one of pride. "I have been waiting for this for a long time," said McDonald, who has led the vaccination effort at Seattle Children's since December 2020. 

Dr. Ruth McDonald and mom Megan Okabayashi help Remy (3) speak into the microphone.

For the parents, it was a mix of hope, excitement, and relief. "Being first-time parents, it's hard in general, but then you throw in a pandemic where you can't get help and you have to be on your own, it's made it that much more difficult," explained Michael Simeona, whose son Cade was born in January 2020. He was just eight weeks old when they went into lockdown.

Megan Okabayashi said she's hopeful that her three-year-old son Remy and everyone else in their family will be safer as the pandemic moves into the next course. "We keep telling him that getting this vaccine means he gets to go on an airplane to see his grandma and grandpa." 

For others there, like Estelle Williams, Edwin Lindo, and their two children Sandino (eight months) and Estella (four years), it marked the end of a long ordeal. "We were so cautious over the last few years," said Williams, who is a surgeon with UW Medicine, "and then two months ago we got it." Their kids got really sick, and they ended up having to take Sandino to the emergency room. "This is very exciting for us to be able to have more protections for the kids." 

Baby Sandino gets his first Covid shot.

At the same time, Lindo added, they recognize the inequities that exist and will continue to exist as vaccines roll out to this age group. "We're going to see that there are also Black and brown children that just aren't having full access," he said, noting that families who have questions should ask people they trust and read the research themselves so they can feel comfortable enough deciding that it's right for their child. "You don't want to see your kid in the ER, because we've experienced that—it's devastating."

Cade Simeona shows off his bandage of honor.

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