‘We’ve been waiting for this for a long time’: 1st Houston area babies, toddlers receive COVID shots

HOUSTON – On Tuesday morning, Texas Children’s Hospital became the first location in Houston to begin vaccinating toddlers and babies as young as six months old.

While kids can recover easily from COVID-19, there have been many instances where a child has suffered severe infection, hospitalization or long-COVID.

Right now, across southeast Texas, there are 45 children hospitalized with COVID-19.

Jiyan Vakil’s parents have worried about him getting sick almost his entire life. He has a heart condition that keeps the whole family, including his twin brother, taking extreme precautions. He and his brother both received their first dose of Moderna Tuesday morning.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. He’s super high risk, and so, I’ve been living in a little bubble. We can’t live a normal toddler life. We can’t do everything we want to do, and people don’t always understand why, but now he’s got a little armor that helps him,” Amisha Vakil said.

“He’s had three open-heart surgeries the first five months, and being immunocompromised, this is a great opportunity to be the first to get vaccinated,” Sohal Vakil said.

The Farrow family went through something similar with their son.

Four-year-old George had multiple surgeries as a premature baby, then his baby sister Hope was born at the height of the Delta surge.

“You know, we didn’t have anybody that could come visit us in the hospital, and then, of course, a lot of her extended family have never met her,” Anna Farrow said.

Pediatric experts from Texas Children’s Hospital, Drs. Spinner and Versalovic, say in addition to COVID, RSV cases are on the rise again this summer. So, protecting young kids from co-infections is among their top concerns.

“We don’t have a vaccine for RSV, but we finally have a vaccine for COVID for the youngest children and this will certainly help deal with these dual viral surges,” said Dr. Jim Versalovic, Pathologist In Chief, Texas Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Versalovic also said any child is at risk for long-COVID, so to spare them from potential chronic complications, the doctors’ advice is to vaccinate.

“Having a child in the hospital has got to be the worst thing you can deal with as a parent of a young child. So, if we can vaccinate your child from getting hospitalized due to COVID by vaccinating them, it is absolutely the best thing that I think you can do as a parent,” said Dr. Stan Spinner, Chief Medical Officer & Vice President, Texas Children’s Pediatrics.

For Hope, George, Jiyan, Kian and the millions of others who are eligible for the vaccine and don’t remember life before the pandemic, the world is theirs to explore, for the first time ever.

“Looking forward to really starting this guy’s life,” Luke Farrow said.

Appointments are now available on the TCH website: https://www.texaschildrens.org/covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccination