Health

Young children in Louisville are beginning to get their COVID-19 vaccines, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years old. 

Some of the first vaccinations took place at Norton Children’s Hospital Friday morning.

4-year-old Stella Paul was one of the first Louisville children to receive her COVID-19 vaccine.

“I was one of those parents who cried tears of joy when Stella was vaccinated,” said Stella’s mother, Mari-Elise Paul.

The 4-year-old was born with a congenital heart defect that later led to a heart transplant.

Paul and her family took extra precautions to protect themselves from COVID given Stella’s compromised immune system.

“We just haven’t interacted in the world in general like most people have,” Mari-Elise Paul said.

Now that Stella Paul has received her first vaccine dose, her mom is excited for her to begin experiencing the world around her.

“Having this vaccine now is allowing her to sort of launch into the world and go to preschool and have these opportunities she hasn’t had yet,” Mari-Elise Paul said.

Many of the parents with children under 5 said it felt as though the world was moving on without them as they waited for the CDC’s approval to vaccinate their children.

“They didn’t feel comfortable traveling or taking off their masks yet or visiting friends and relatives and going to birthday parties,” Norton Children’s pediatrician Dr. Heather Felton said. “They were anxious to get back to kind of your normal life.”

Felton’s own 5-year-old daughter Caroline was among the children to get the first dose of the vaccine this week. Felton said she had no reservations “This vaccine has been studied a lot and given to a lot of people over the last year and a half,” Felton said. “I really do trust it. It’s really been proven to be a safe vaccine.”

Local physicians said getting vaccines to this age group is important in the fight against COVID-19.

“We’ve been talking for months that young children are vulnerable to COVID,” director of COVID-19 for Norton Healthcare Carrie Regnier said. “We really saw that play out in Louisville during the omicron wave. We saw increases in young kids admitted to the hospital because they were sick with COVID.”

Norton Children’s officials have distributed vaccines to various clinics around the city where families can get children vaccinated.

There will be a pop-up clinic at Norton Audubon Hospital beginning June 25 and continuing Saturdays and Sundays for the next three weeks, according to Norton Healthcare officials.

To schedule an appointment with Norton Children’s, visit nortonchildrens.com. To check for appointments at other locations, visit vaccines.gov.

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for WFPL.