On a cool, dark night in November, families begin arriving at the Harriet Lane Clinic at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center well after normal closing time. The Wheeler family is among the first to walk through the glass door entrance. A clinic care team member escorts 11-year-old Arianna, 10-year-old James and 4-year-old Joshua and their parents, Terrance and Nate, of Nottingham, Maryland, into a patient room.
Arianna sits with her hands folded in her lap as James stands next to her — both quietly, patiently waiting for coveted vaccinations that will help keep them healthy. While Arianna and James will receive both their flu vaccine and their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, their younger brother will receive only his flu vaccine.
The Wheelers’ visit comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 and up, following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authorization. Johns Hopkins Children’s Center experts agree that all children in this age group should get the COVID-19 vaccine.
To help in the effort, the Harriet Lane Clinic opened its doors for an evening clinic to offer the annual flu vaccine, as well as the COVID-19 vaccine, to eligible pediatric patients and their family members.
“We want to make sure kids are protected against the virus,” says Nakiya Showell, medical director of the Harriet Lane Clinic at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “This is the best tool that we have to fight the virus and to keep kids from being sick from this infection. And we also want to make sure we have kids vaccinated in time for them to be able to travel for the holidays.”
Terrance Wheeler says he wants his children to be vaccinated to better guarantee that they, as well as those around them, can remain healthy. “In order for them to be safe, they have to be vaccinated, and it gives you, kind of, assurance,” Wheeler says. “Everything is not 100%, but what is 100%? So I’d rather take my chances to have the vaccine.”
As of Dec. 1, Johns Hopkins Medicine has vaccinated more than 1,200 children between 5 and 11 years old against COVID-19. The Harriet Lane Clinic also plans to offer hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines in the upcoming months to Harriet Lane Clinic primary care patients and some patients seen in pediatric subspecialty clinics.