Tucked between the Museum of Science’s IMAX theater and the planetarium are rows of tables and chairs that are typically filled by museum goers waiting for a show. But on Saturday people arrived for a different reason — children ages 5 to 11 years old were there to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
Elizabeth Taglauer was with her daughter, Alana, who is dressed up like Wonder Woman. Taglauer says the day couldn’t come soon enough.
"It’s a special day. I’m a doctor, I do COVID research, and it’s just so meaningful to have my daughter here and fight this terrible virus," said Taglauer, through tears.
Alana was one of hundreds of children who had signed up for an appointment on Saturday.
Museum President Tim Ritchie said setting up the clinic at the museum was as much about strategy as it was about empowerment.
“Young people — children in particular — don’t like shots," said Ritchie. "So how do we take the sting, so to speak, out of that. We want to bring it to the Museum of Science where we can celebrate them and make it something different than a clinical experience, but more of a celebratory experience about their active leadership.”
The clinic itself feels like a birthday party. There are balloons, art stations, and stuffed animals leading up to the where children receive their shots. Once kids get their vaccine, they wait in an observation area next to a pair of the museum’s musical stairs.
Brothers Christopher and Kellan Lockhart got their shots together. They both said they would do it again.
“I thought it hurt less than a flu shot," said Christopher Lockhart. "I mean, I could do this five times a year, honestly.”
“It felt just like the slightest bit of pressure and then it was over, so not that bad at all," said Kellan Lockhart.
Their mother Emily said she was relieved it was over.
“I feel like we’re going to be able to do so many things now," she said, "and I just hope that more people get vaccinated so we can get out of this pandemic."
Arlene Koellner feels the same. She brought her sons, Walter and Marty, to get vaccinated. She said seeing them get their shots was emotional for her.
“I started to get a little overwhelmed. I teared up at the end — just this sort of sense of relief and seeing how many people came together to make this pleasant for the kids — after they’ve had to give up so much the past few years, [it] really touched me," said Koellner.
Kevin Turner, chief operating officer for Cataldo Ambulance, said he’s heard that kind of relief from a lot of parents. The company has been running vaccine clinics for almost a year now, with no sign of slowing down now.
“What amazes me is I thought we’d be done by September, October, and we’re still going...I’m booking clinics for pediatrics even into January," said Turner. "It’s been a long year.”
"It’s a special day. I’m a doctor, I do COVID research, and it’s just so meaningful to have my daughter here and fight this terrible virus."Elizabeth Taglauer
Back past the museum's musical stairs, Jennifer Le Blonde walks with her 5-year-old son, Hayden, who just got vaccinated. Hayden is shy, but Jennifer fills in the blanks for him.
“Now we’re saying that Hayden just got his super powers, so we’re very very proud of him," said Le Blonde.
Saturday and Sunday's clinic at the Museum of Science was fully booked, and the clinic set for next weekend is nearly at full capacity. Another is scheduled for December 4 and 5. More information on the clinics can be found on their website. Those who register for an appointment get two hours of free parking and two passes to the museum. The museum is also vaccinating adults based on availability. All appointments can be made on the state's vaxfinder website.
This segment aired on November 14, 2021.