FORT POLK, La. –
Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital administered the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine to children 5-11 years old Nov. 9 at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana. BJACH coordinated the clinic after school hours, to avoid interference with student academics and filled every available appointment.
The CDC endorsed the immunization of children Nov. 2, following the Oct. 29 U.S. Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. According to the CDC, vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19, reducing their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations or developing long-term COVID-19 complications.
Capt. Lizamara Bedolla, chief of hospital education and staff development at BJACH, was at the immunization clinic with her children Eliana (11) and Marcos (13).
“It’s important for children 5 years old and older to get vaccinated,” she said. “Evidence suggests that children are the more susceptible than previously thought and are being admitted to hospitals more frequently.”
Bedolla said early on in the pandemic the focus was on the elderly, frontline workers and individuals with underlying health conditions.
“It’s important to get kids up to the same level of immunity as we have,” she said. "My mother, a breast cancer survivor got her shot, my 84 year old grandmother got her shot, my whole family is about to be vaccinated. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is.”
Bedolla said as soon as she saw the announcement that kids could be vaccinated she made an appointment for her daughter.
Eliana Bedolla, a student at First Assembly Christian Academy said her mom encouraged her get the vaccine.
“My mom is a nurse and knows getting vaccinated is important,” she said. “I’m not worried about getting a shot, I’ve gotten a lot of them.”
Marcos Bedolla said he got vaccinated as soon as it was available to him.
“I got my shot six months ago,” he said. “I heard my mom and dad talking about it and volunteered immediately. I am over COVID! It needs to end as soon as possible.”
Sianna Gautier (8), a third grade student at Parkway Elementary School was getting her COVID-19 vaccine because she is going on vacation soon.
“We are going on a trip and we need to be vaccinated,” she said. “I think all kids should get their shot. It’s not scary and it will help us stay healthy.”
Gautier, daughter of Command Sgt. Maj. Joshua Dumond, 3rd Battalion, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, said she has gotten all the other vaccines. She was excited to have her photo taken while getting her shot to be a positive example for other kids.
BJACH has COVID-19 vaccines available for beneficiaries 5 years-old and up by appointment in the immunization clinic. To schedule an appointment for your initial, second or booster dose simply contact the call center at (337) 531-3011
or through the patient portal at tricareonline.com