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12-year-old asks to be vaccinated for her birthday

On Lucy Roy’s 12th birthday, she found herself asking for something she never would have imagined a few years ago: She asked to get a shot.

Specifically, she wanted to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I was ready to turn 12 so I could get mine,” she said. “I just want life to get back to normal and the only way to do that is for people to be vaccinated.”

In the early stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 was a virus that’s impact seemed reserved for those who were older or had complicating health factors. With the spread of new variants, such as the Delta variant, that is no longer the case. It’s becoming more common for children to be infected — and sadly more are even ending up in the hospital.

According to the American Association of Pediatrics, children now comprise 15 percent of all COVID-19 infections in the United States. Last month, the country hit a record high as 1,900 children were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, although breakthrough cases are possible the data suggests that being vaccinated does decrease your odds of infection. It also offers significant protection from being hospitalized or dying. That isn’t why Lucy wanted to be vaccinated on her birthday, though. She did it because she was worried about others.

“I want to protect my family and friends from COVID-19. I want to visit my grandparents and hug them,” she said. “I’m ready for COVID-19 to end.”

At just 12-years-old, Lucy feels like she’s watched her world stop as a result of the pandemic. Her fifth-grade graduation, a milestone celebrating her last year in elementary school, was canceled and her first year as a middle schooler was mostly virtual. She’s glad to be back in an actual classroom this year, especially after receiving her first dose of the vaccine.

COVID-19 still looms over a lot of things in her life — for example, a recent volleyball game was canceled because her opponent was quarantined — but being vaccinated lets her breathe a little easier and offers a sense of normalcy.

Vaccinations probably weren’t at the top of many 12-year-old’s birthday lists a few years ago, but good health and peace of mind are worthy gifts at any age.

COVID-19 vaccines are currently available for everyone 12 and older. SOMC offers vaccinations without an appointment at its community pharmacies in Portsmouth, Wheelersburg and West Union. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit cdc.gov.