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Billings parents excited to get their kids COVID-19 vaccine

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Posted at 6:24 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 20:24:12-04

BILLINGS — On Wednesday, Billings mother Stephanie Aleksich said she's excited to get her twin son and daughter their COVID-19 vaccinations to help protect their grandparents from the virus, as last month marked the worst yet for COVID-19 in Yellowstone County.

"I have parents that I take care of, and I'm the only person that takes care of them. It's huge. I kept the kids out of school last year because I didn't want to bring COVID home to my mom. I think it's just another step in moving along in the future," Aleksich said.

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Stephanie Aleksich said the kids vaccine is a game changer for her family. She said her parents will be more safe around their grandkids once they are vaccinated

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for kids aged five to 11. Kids will receive a dose that is one-third that of the typical adult dose, and they will receive two vaccinations, three weeks apart.

The excitement for kids' vaccines comes as Yellowstone County recorded the worst month since the pandemic began for COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and cases.

At a press conference Wednesday, Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton urged everyone in the community to get their COVID shot.

"I'm not going to bury the lede and there's no other way to say it, but October 2021 was a painful month in Yellowstone County," Felton said.

October in Yellowstone County saw 4,569 new COVID-19 cases, 302 new hospitalizations and 55 deaths, Felton said.

While no kids in Yellowstone County have died from COVID, the number is not zero across the country, Felton said. Kids typically see less severe symptoms from the virus but can still pass it on to others, but the vaccine will help, Felton said.

“The more of those children that get vaccinated, the safer it will be for not only their family members, but also for their teachers and other school staff that are necessary to keep our schools open," Felton said.

About 55 percent of Yellowstone County's eligible population has been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to the state's tracking map.

"I worry about it at some times, and then other times I don't," said McKinley Elementary School student Oliver Tudor, regarding COVID-19.

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Oliver Tudor, a Billings elementary school student, stands with his grandmother, Lynn Fitzgerald after school got out Wednesday afternoon.

While COVID sometimes weighs on his mind, he said Wednesday after school he's not as nervous to get the shot.

"I think if it's for the good, then I think it's not that nervous," Tudor said.

The kid COVID-19 vaccine doses haven't yet made it to Yellowstone County, but they are on the way, Felton said.

Eventually, parents will be able to get their kids vaccinated at their family pediatrician. RiverStone has also scheduled family vaccine clinics with kids' doses to happen on Nov. 13 and 20 at Cedar Hall on the MetraPark Campus.

RiverStone staff haven't been booking appointments yet, because they don't know how many doses they will receive. To keep up with the latest free vaccine clinics and testing locations, visit covid.RiverStoneHealth.org

RELATED: Montana’s governor nixed a kids’ vaccine campaign, so health officials plan their own