It’s been a long road to recovery for a 6-year-old Chicago girl who was one of the first children in the country to test positive for COVID-19, but Thursday marked a monumental step in her journey, getting her first dose of the recently-approved Pfizer vaccine.
Amelia Ateca was diagnosed with COVID-19 in May 2020. Soon after, she developed myocarditis – inflammation of the heart – and was put on a ventilator for seven days.
“All I know is that it was really hard for me,” said Ateca.
On Thursday, Ateca’s mother, Alicia Lopez-Ateca, invited Chicago area media to Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge to film her daughter’s first vaccine dose, given after the CDC gave its emergency use authorization for doses for kids between the ages of 5 and 11.
“This is a very important moment for our family,” said Lopez-Ateca. “We trusted doctors and scientists to treat our daughter and they saved her life.”
Her mother wants other parents to feel comfortable in their decision to get their children vaccinated. She says it’s much bigger than Amelia.
“It’s going to benefit you, it’s going to benefit your child, your neighbor,” said Lopez-Ateca. “It benefits the person halfway across the world [who] you might not even know.”
The CDC gave its formal recommendation of the Pfizer vaccine doses for kids 5 – 11 years old on Tuesday. For now, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one of three in the U.S., approved for this age group.
Both the Moderna, which also requires two shots, and the Johnson & Johnson, which requires one, are still in the testing stages for use in children.
Two shots are given, three weeks apart. The doses are also much smaller for this age group than adults but work just as effectively for children, according to the CDC.
A pediatrician who didn’t treat Amelia spoke to media about the newly approved vaccine for kids. Dr. Joanna Lewis of Advocate Children’s Hospital says she’s getting her own children vaccinated this week.
“Parents should feel that if they’re going to get their regular school vaccines, they can just add covid vaccine to the list of now preventable diseases that we’re treating,” said Dr. Lewis.
The approval makes approximately 28 million kids in the U.S. eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.