Two pop-up clinics in Toronto began offering shots to children aged 12 and up on Tuesday, and for so many who lined up, the vaccine represented a shot of hope.
“It’s a big step. Now we are close to the end of all the bad stuff,” says 13-year-old James Lopreiato.
James and his older brother Philip lined up at the clinic located at the former Don Bosco Secondary School in Etobicoke today.
“I miss spending time with my family and friends. I didn’t get to see them, it was very sad,” says James. “It’s really been a tough year, but we fought through it and now we can keep going and soon it’s almost going to be back to normal.”
For many teens who were vaccinated Tuesday, it’s been a long 14 months full of worry, uncertainty and social isolation. Isabella, who is 13 years old, had to quarantine from her family four times due to close contact with people who tested positive while at school.
“It was really hard, I wasn’t able to see family, I was trapped in my room with not much to do,” she says.
With her son was vaccinated today, mom Shannon was brought to tears knowing her youngest child, 13-year-old TJ, is one step closer to a better life.
“For the last year and a half I’ve been worried about family and now for the first time it feels like we are going to keep on going and make it through,” she says. TJ adds that going to school in the fall will now be less stressful.
Teenagers were lined up around the building, enthusiastic that this shot will bring a better school year come September.
Sixteen-year-old Mason said he was getting vaccinated so he could do his part to get society open again. He called on others to participate in a “shot boy summer.”
The clinic at Don Bosco is only open to residents living in three area postal codes. It will be offering shots to the 12-17 age group once again tomorrow.
Toronto’s second clinic, at John Polanyi C.I in North York was also offering the Pfizer vaccines to students as young as 12 today. That location catering to four schools in the neighbourhood, where 900 students are eligible for the shot.
“The hope is people will feel comfortable coming back to in-person learning, which is what our community says it wants,” says Principal Margaret Greenberg.
“It’s hope,” says 17-year-old Alexa. “You know life is getting back to normal; you can see the finish line clearly now.”
The entire region of Peel has dropped its age limit to 16 years and older as of Tuesday, and province-wide – the age limit will drop to 12 years old as of May 31st.