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Upshots: Mountain West Kids On Why They're Getting Vaccinated

With the FDA and CDC signing off on kids as young as 12 receiving Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, young people around the region tell the Mountain West News Bureau about what's motivating them to get the shot.

Ezra Visser, 14, Laramie, Wyoming

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"I wanted to get [the shot] pretty much right away. Because that way I knew I had at least some type of protection against COVID. And that way I could see friends more freely and, eventually, not have to wear a mask in most places."

"I feel a little safer just because I know that I have some protection. Not full immunity. I still wear masks in public and stay six feet away from people."

"I'm looking forward to going back to restaurants. There are a couple of good ones in town that I have definitely missed eating at. We've ordered out from some of my favorite places, but I will definitely be excited to be able to go inside."

"Before I got my shot, [my friends and I] would mostly get together in parks and hang out outside. We would also get together in houses but we would wear masks and stay a little bit apart … It'll be nice to have more freedom in being able to hang out."

Shandiin Willie, 14, Shiprock, New Mexico

"At first, I didn't want to get [the vaccine]. I was scared because I thought I was still going to get the virus, or something. But then my mom convinced me to get it. She said if I wanted to go back to school and be around my friends, I should get it. So I was like, 'OK, maybe it's not all that bad. Maybe I should get it.'"

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"Logging on to [virtual] classes everyday and then having to do a lot of assignments has been so hard and tiring and draining. I wouldn't want to do it again. I'm looking forward to going back to school in person, not online, and getting to play sports again."

"I'm excited to see my friends again. When we're all together in person, we just like to talk and laugh. But over the phone, it's different."

"I think I would encourage [other kids] to get the vaccine, too. If you want to be around other people, or if you want to go back to school in person and not online, you should get it. That way you don't contract [COVID-19] or spread it. And so that maybe, at some point, everything can go back to normal."

Taylor Dineyazhe, 15, Gallup, New Mexico

"I was a little scared [to get the shot]. Not because of the symptoms or anything, I just have a fear of needles … It feels exciting because a year ago today, we didn't even have a vaccine. And now, I'm just getting closer to the second dose day by day and I won't have to live in constant fear of catching the virus or spreading it to my family."

"Whenever I would go to the store I would be in constant fear of touching something, and then someone who has the virus has touched that, or not washing my hands long enough, or making sure that my mask is covering my face correctly."

"This past week, I went out with my friends finally and got to see them again. It made me feel happy because I haven't gotten to see anyone besides my family this whole entire pandemic. So just seeing [my friends again] made me want to cry. But I didn't want to in front of them. So, I was just happy the whole entire time."

"I'm looking forward to traveling with my family and going to concerts. I've been really wanting to see Harry Styles, and then Billie Eilish too with her tour that's coming up."

Molly Buckles, 13, Cody, Wyoming

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"I'm getting my first shot next week. I don't think anything will really go back to normal … but I haven't been able to do as many sleepovers or hangouts with my friends. So getting the vaccine and just staying safe will help me do that again."

"I think I'm more of a germaphobe now [because of the pandemic]. I never really thought about getting sick like this before."

"I'd say to other kids that after you get [the vaccine] you're just going to feel more free and safe and just feel better, I guess. That's how I'm going to feel, I think. If you want to do it, go for it. Don't be afraid of needles."

"I really appreciate my friends right now. They know that while they have been able to have more playdates and sleepovers because their parents think differently about [the coronavirus,] they know that I still like wearing masks and I feel differently about COVID. So they accept that and support me."

Oliver Rogers, 12, Boise, Idaho

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"About a week ago, I got the vaccine. My second shot, I'm going to get it in about two weeks … I was a little nervous at first, but I've gotten lots of other vaccinations and I was like, 'I know it's just going to be a little pinch.' I didn't have many side effects. Just a slight headache and a sore arm."

"When COVID was still (raging), we couldn't hang out with any friends or do anything because it was such a bad virus and we didn't want to take it home."

"I just really wanted to get [the vaccine] so I could hang out with friends again and do more stuff with them. Just like sleepovers and hanging out and doing fun stuff ... And I want to play football when I'm fully vaccinated."

"I say for every 12- to 15-year-old, they should definitely get it and they shouldn't worry about getting it. It doesn't really hurt. It's just a slight pinch. And it's been tested on other kids who are 12 to 15, and they were fine."

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Madelyn Beck was Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau.
Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them.

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