Tag along with one 7-year-old Vermonter as he gets his first COVID shot

Owen and his mom Jessica sit for a portrait after Owen, who is 7, received his first COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at the Main Street Middle School in Montpelier

Owen and his mom Jessica sit for a portrait after Owen, who is 7, received his first COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at the Main Street Middle School in Montpelier. (Elodie Reed/VPR)

More than 30% of Vermont kids between the ages of 5 and 11 have signed up through the state portal to get their first COVID shot, and more will be able to choose pharmacies and pediatricians’ offices as the state gets additional doses.

For many families, this is a momentous occasion. But even exciting things can be hard. VPR followed one young Vermonter through a rollercoaster of emotions as he got his first dose this morning.

It was raining in Montpelier when Owen Welsch walked up to the State Street Middle School for his 9:45 vaccine appointment. His 4-year-old sister Gretta was with him and so was his mom, Jessica, who said Owen had been looking forward to this moment.

“Owen has been excited for months and just waiting and anticipating that kids could get their COVID shot,” Jessica said. “And he asked me to write a letter to our Health Commissioner, Dr. Mark Levine, requesting that he could be the first Vermonter under the age of 12 to get his COVID vaccination.”

While he wasn’t the first kid to get vaccinated, he was among the first 14,000 who have already signed up to get the shot, and he was eager to help other kids feel comfortable doing the same. So he had agreed to be followed by VPR as he went through the process.

He had even worn a special t-shirt with helmets from The Mandalorian, one of his favorite pieces of clothing, for the occasion.

But it’s really hard to do something that can feel scary, like getting a shot, even if you really want to do it. And Owen found himself a little overwhelmed as he was ushered into the school gym to register, and then headed over to a semi-private area where he’d actually get the vaccine.

With lots of encouragement from local and state health workers and several reassuring hugs from Mom, Owen faced his fear, removed his sweatshirt, and bravely revealed his upper arm to take the shot.

For the full story, including audio, visit vpr.org.