‘Hopefully, that helps the community’ | Teens now eligible to get COVID-19 vaccine do it for themselves, loved ones, others
Fourteen-year-old Chase Gedicks plopped down in the plastic folding chair -- eager to be the first person ages 12 to 15 to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Tidelands Health.
“You nervous?” the clinician asked as he settled in, ready to offer tips to calm any nerves.
“Nope,” the 14-year-old Myrtle Beach resident said confidently and without any hesitation. “I’m very proud. I’m just happy that I’m the first one and I’m the first to do something.”
Shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the green light to extend the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to those ages 12 to 15 late Wednesday afternoon, Chase walked into the Tidelands Health regional vaccination site in Murrells Inlet excited to make history.
In addition to wanting to get back to hanging out with his friends, eating at restaurants and being out in public more, Chase said he chose to get the vaccine to protect himself, family members with underlying health conditions and even strangers.
“Hopefully, that helps the community,” he said.
To date, Tidelands Health has administered more than 73,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. On Saturday, families – teens as well as parents and others - can get vaccinated together during a Safe Summer Kickoff vaccination event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Tidelands Health regional vaccination site at Inlet Square Mall in Murrells Inlet. Families can schedule an appointment at tidelandshealth.org/vaccine or simply walk in at their convenience during operating hours.
Pediatricians will be on hand all day Saturday to answer parents’ questions and provide additional information.
Chase’s mom, Dawn Gedicks, had done her research and had no hesitancy in bringing her son to get the vaccine.
“I thought it was important for him to get vaccinated and for us to move on and be part of the solution,” said Gedicks, who also received her COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday. “Just hopefully return things to normal. And that starts with everybody doing their part. And he was more than willing.”
Turns out some teens have been eagerly waiting their turn for a chance to get the vaccine.
Isabel Keith, 15, also jumped at the chance to get the vaccine late Wednesday. She arrived at the vaccination site in Murrells Inlet with her older sister who was already scheduled for her shot. When Isabel found out she was now eligible and could get it too, she was ready to do it.
“I was really excited because I wanted to get it today, but I thought I was too young. So, yeah, I was excited,” Isabel said while waiting in the observation area after getting her first shot.
After sitting down to get the shot, Isabel immediately had second thoughts – about wearing a long-sleeve shirt that made it more challenging to reach her arm for the shot. Quick remedy, though, and mom April Keith offered support for Isabel’s bravery by holding her hand for the few seconds it takes for the shot to be administered.
Isabel and the entire family had special motivation to get the vaccine.
“Mainly because of my brother,” she said of her little brother, Jackson, 10. “He has really bad asthma, and I knew if he got COVID-19, he would have to be back in the hospital and would get really sick. And also for others. I might not be a high risk, but others are.”
Jackson – who also helped provide inspiration for his other older sister, Emma, 16, to get the vaccine – held Emma’s hand as the needle went in her arm.
While keeping their brother safe and helping the community was their main motivation, the sisters also wanted the vaccine for themselves. Emma plays soccer and is eager for games to be back to normal without face masks and other rigorous COVID-19 precautions.
Isabel is aiming to spread the word to friends that they are now eligible to get the vaccine.
“It makes me feel good, like the start of a change,” Isabel said.
Chase also feels like he’s part of the solution and is eager to share with his youth group at Lowcountry Community Church that he was the first in the 12-15 age group to get the vaccine at Tidelands Health. The avid gamer and frequent YouTube video creator also had a few words of advice.
“Everybody should just stay safe and be cool,” he said.