HOUSTON - Houston Methodist reports 700 children ages 12 to 15 had gotten a COVID-19 vaccine by early Thursday afternoon. It was the first day the hospital systems seven vaccine sites offered them to that age group.
Pia Andrade, 14, is among those who got her on the first day. For her, this moment could not get here fast enough.
"I can help protect other people. It feels pretty amazing. A little bit like a superhero," she said immediately after getting the shot.
It is especially important for Pia to be able to protect her mother who was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer last summer.
"She is immunocompromised from cancer, and so I've been extremely careful throughout this whole thing," she added.
"My daughters, the whole time, have been an amazing support system and have stepped up in ways that I would have never asked them to but have needed to," said Janay Andrade, Pia's mother. "So, her wanting to get vaccinated today is just another one of those steps of courage and love that is really meaningful."
"Monday after the FDA gave the initial authorization, we actually started seeing our number of scheduled appointments per day on our website begin to double and then triple," noted Tesha Montgomery, Vice President of Operations and Patient Access with Houston Methodist.
She adds more than half of those were 12-to-15-year-olds.
Emily Vaughn, 14, also got her vaccine on Thursday.
"It was a lot less painful than I expected. I usually don't like needles but that was fine," she said.
She had decided early on she wanted the vaccine and was just waiting for her chance to get it.
"I wanted to do my part for the community and be able to hang out with my friends soon," Emily explained.
Montgomery says the hospital's vaccine sites have not seen any serious side effects among the age group so far.
Janay says it was an easy decision for her to allow Pia to get vaccinated. She says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks.
"If one less person can die because of our actions, I would wholeheartedly do it every single day," she added.
Pia says she's excited to show her friends she did it.
"I get to go back to school and show them I got my vaccine. My little sticker. I'm very excited about that, too," Pia concluded.
Montgomery says for the next couple of weeks Houston Methodist vaccine sites will extend their hours on Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For a list of Pfizer vaccine providers in the Houston area, click here.