SPOKANE, Wash. — Summer is coming to an end, which means school is about to get back into session in the Inland Northwest. Providence Health Care is doing its part to help students get back-to-school ready by getting them vaccinated against COVID-19.
Nearly 470,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Spokane County, according to the Washington Department of Health (DOH). On Saturday at the Spokane Teaching Health Center, two siblings became the latest community members to get the jab.
"Once we were going back to school, I was like, 'it may be better to get it now than later,'" Avery Spunich, 12, said.
Avery is ready to head into 7th grade. She's an athlete, just like her 14-year-old brother Brandon. Their main reasons for getting the vaccine are for safety and so they can participate in sports, they said.
"I don't think we got it early just because we didn't really want it back then," Brandon said. "But now with school starting, we thought it was good to get it. We're around more people a lot and we would be at more risk at school."
Providence has been operating vaccine clinics for months now, but this one is special. Kids ages 12 and older have been eligible to get the vaccine since May. With the school year coming up, providers are making an extra push to get more students vaccinated.
"I was a little nervous at the start, but once it started I was like, 'oh this is pretty good, pretty easy.'" Avery said. "I am glad I got it."
"I was a little nervous for the shot, but I was most nervous about getting sick after," Brandon added.
When asked how he felt after getting the shot, he said he felt good and completely fine. But the fear is totally valid, Providence Child Life Specialist Andie Daisley said. She was there to help ease any nerves. She sat with patients the entire vaccination, gave them toys to play with and even offered to hold hands.
"Kids have been really proud of themselves today, that's been the biggest takeaway that I will bring with me," Daisley said. "Just the excitement coming in and making this choice for themselves and their community and how proud they are walking away that they have done something hard. They can do hard things."
Child life specialists primarily work from the hospital to provide children and families with age-appropriate preparation for medical procedures, pain management, coping strategies, play, and self-expression activities, Providence spokesperson Ariana Lake said. Daisley used those same strategies to help kids understand the vaccination process and make them feel at ease.
"Being brave doesn't mean that you aren't nervous, it means you are and choose to do it anyway," Daisley added. "I'm just really impressed with these kids and teens coming in today."
With COVID-19 cases rising across the nation due to the Delta variant, more and more healthcare workers say they are seeing children impacted by the virus.
"If you're not ready to get it, just know it won't hurt you and don't worry about it," Avery said. "It will be fine."
She is no longer worried about her second dose because Providence made her feel super comfortable and it was such a quick and easy process, she said.
The siblings celebrated getting their life-saving vaccine with a sweet treat from the Artic Kat mobile ice cream truck.