SALT LAKE CITY — Monday will be a big day for Utah as parents rush to line their children up for COVID-19 vaccinations, which will officially be offered in clinics statewide for the 5- to 11-year-old age group.
Health care organizations are preparing for the influx, some offering appointments and others accepting walk-ins.
The doses are all ready to go. But the kids?
Some of them may not be — seeing as shots are usually not a favorite among children.
Former Salt Lake County Council member at-large Shireen Ghorbani brought her son into Friday's pilot opening at Primary Children's Shot Spot walk-in clinic.
He sat on her lap as the nurse readied the vaccine.
"Mom!" he yelped.
"It's okay. Don't look. It's okay," Ghorbani said soothingly, in an effort to calm her son as the nurse poked him with a needle.
"Guess what?" the nurse said enthusiastically. "It's over! It's over!"
The staff at Intermountain Healthcare and Nomi Health are ready for wearier little ones as the newest age group enters the vaccine race.
And as Nomi Health indicated, staff will do their best to make the process as painless as possible.
"We have our staff trained and kind of going through the whole process of, these are little kids and it's going to take a little bit more time, and it takes a little bit more care," said Carolina Herrin, the operations director for the state of Utah for Nomi Health.
Herrin explained that they are expecting an uptick in numbers come Monday. They opened their vaccine clinics to the single digit age group on Friday and Saturday.
Nomi Health is offering hundreds of appointments per day, Herrin relayed, to accommodate the increase in demand.
"We're going to do all we can, especially starting this week moving forward, to make sure all of our sites are ready, that they're staffed accordingly," Herrin said.
Nomi Health's process includes a registration ahead of time, though Herrin described how people can simply show up on a first-come, first-served basis.
Herrin added that the vaccine is free, and people do not need insurance or ID cards to get their children vaccinated.
Intermountain Healthcare's process is a little different, as appointments need to be made ahead of time at clinics and pediatric offices across the state. However, Intermountain Healthcare is taking walk-ins at the Shot Spot at Primary Children's Hospital Eccles Outpatient Building.
Herrin recommended parents talk to their kids ahead of time about the vaccine so that they're as prepared as possible for the poke.
At Friday's Shot Spot pilot opening, Victoria Holmes showed up with her daughter Penelope.
Penelope calmly sat there as the nurse gave her a poke.
"You're doing such a good job, baby!" Victoria chirped. At the end, she hugged her daughter and began to cry.
Holmes and Ghorbani each talked about how they've been waiting for this moment.
"Oh my goodness, I might cry. It's like a huge relief," Ghorbani said as her eyes welled with tears. "The beginning was scary. I remember just thinking at the time, you know, eventually we'll be at a place where there will be a vaccine or we'll have something that can be available. And that was two years ago, so now here we are. It feels really good."
"Now that she's vaccinated, it opens up the world to her," Holmes said of Penelope. "And I can take her places that before I was maybe a little anxious or concerned about taking her."
Holmes asked her daughter if getting the vaccine was scary.
"No, not really scary," Penelope answered.
"Were you brave?" Holmes asked.
"Yep. Being brave, I didn't cry," Penelope responded proudly.
"That's right," Holmes continued. "But mama cried."
"Yep," Penelope replied, adding, "She was so happy that I got my shot."
Click here to find locations and schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine through Intermountain Healthcare.
Click here to find registration information and the locations and hours of Nomi Health vaccine clinics.
Click here for other vaccine information in Utah.