My Experience Getting the COVID Shot as a 16-year old


Photo by Michelle Earl

Sophomore Anna Earl holds up the certificate that proves that she has received her COVID-19 vaccine after receiving her first shot in March.

As COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed, the race to receive a vaccination has begun for many Americans. As a 16 year old who is a part of many extracurricular activities, around many people, and is higher risk due to medical conditions, I was very excited when vaccines were approved for people 16 or above. After about a month of working to convince my mom to let me get the vaccine, she finally agreed after my dad received his first dose and experienced no side effects other than a sore arm.

We planned on going to the vaccine clinic at Camden Clark after school to try to get leftover doses from that day. After doing research for a different article about the vaccines, I realized the Moderna vaccine was only approved for 18 and up. I messaged my mom, so she then scheduled me for an appointment for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Again, I looked it up and saw that yet again, that vaccine was only approved for 18 and up. It turned out that the only vaccine that was approved for 16 and up was the Pfizer vaccine, a fact that I didn’t know until a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the only vaccine not available in Parkersburg was Pfizer. That night, after some research we discovered that the closest clinic with the Pfizer vaccine was an hour and a half away in Clarksburg, so we signed up.

Going an hour and a half away was a major problem. Not only did I have to take a day off of school, but my mom had to take a day off of work to fit with my appointment time of 11 o’clock. Once we were there, the process was very fast. We waited in line and I showed my drivers license to enter, then we filled out paperwork, and waited. After we finished the paperwork, they took us to a table and the nurse gave me the shot, a process that only took about 30 seconds. I had to wait 15 minutes after the shot to make sure I didn’t have a reaction, which I didn’t, then we were free to go. The whole process took about 30 minutes and 15 of those were after I received the shot.

I was lucky. My mom didn’t want me to drive an hour and a half when I could potentially have side effects, so she went with me. This isn’t possible for some parents who aren’t able to take off work. This was just one obstacle. I’m higher risk due to medical conditions, which meant I was able to qualify for a vaccine clinic specifically meant for people with disabilities. For the average 16 year old, this also isn’t an option.

Our state is very proud to be offering vaccinations for 16 and up. This fact is advertised everywhere. What they don’t tell us is how hard it is as a 16 year old to get vaccinated. Only one vaccine is available to our age group, Pfizer. In our area Pfizer is unavailable, meaning in order to get the shot you must travel to a different community. Further, the average 16 year old still doesn’t qualify for most clinics; I only qualified because of medical conditions. While our state is making great strides, the only way for our communities to truly become safe is to make it easier for high school age kids to become vaccinated. To truly become efficient, the state needs to have more appointment times outside of school so that more teenagers can get vaccinated. They also need to add more Pfizer vaccine clinics to improve vaccine access even further.