This month, 12- to 14-year-olds in New York state became eligible for Covid-19 inoculations. A vaccination site was set up at Nassau Community College on May 13, with Northwell Health employees catering to the younger population.
In order to receive the vaccine, the adolescents and teens need parental consent. One of the many parents in attendance was West Hempstead resident Dr. Bret Bennington, chairman of the department of geology, environment and sustainability at Hofstra University. Bennington, who was vaccinated months ago, said he had no adverse reaction, so he wasn’t worried about his teen daughters, ages 16 and 13, who were the last members of his family to get the shot.
“I have no fears, because I’m pro-science and pro-vaccine,” Bennington said. “As a teacher, I also look forward to more of my students and fellow staff members getting vaccinated and having the students back in the classroom soon.”
Another West Hempstead resident, Danaan O’Connor, 16, who attends Sacred Heart Academy School, said, “This has been such a hard time for me because it’s my junior year of high school, and I have a lot of anxiety about whether or not I’ll be able to have a prom and field trips next year when I’m a senior.”
O’Connor said she was a bit nervous about whether she would have any reaction to the vaccine, which she described as painless. All her friends had minor reactions, she said, but they felt better within a few days.
“It’s important for teens and middle-schoolers to get vaccinated,” County Executive Laura Curran said, “because it will help them finish off the school semester strong and do summer camps and jobs.”
Members of the Nassau County Youth Council, teens who had worked on a number of volunteer Covid-19 initiatives, including educating and encouraging residents to get vaccinated, got the shot themselves.
“It’s important, so things will go back to normal quicker,” council member Aidan David, 16, said. “I’m part of the solution to the pandemic, and I’m excited to have been vaccinated because I can work at a camp this summer with kids.”
“I’m here today as an advocate of the vaccine,” added Freeport resident and NCY member Myles Hollingsworth, 16, who is also the president of the NAACP Freeport-Roosevelt Youth Group. “Getting my vaccine was safe and effortless, and there are many other young Black, Brown and Latino people getting the vaccine.”
Asked about those who remain skeptical of the immunization effort, Hollingsworth said, “I would never want to coerce someone into getting the Covid-19 vaccine, but taking an educational approach with people is the better way.”
Echoing other teens’ sentiments, he concluded, “Now that I’ve been vaccinated and more people everywhere are becoming eligible for vaccines, I look forward to the summer, and hanging out with friends.”