The Smallest Covid Threats Get Their Shields

Lauren had to make a choice: her mother's safety or what was best for her young child.

She kept her son out of kindergarten to avoid exposure to Covid and locked down her family for a period of time last year. She didn't want her mom to miss out on being with her only grandchild.

Between her work and mushroom hunts in the forest, school was canceled. She and her mother wouldn't have to live in fear of a life-ending cuddle.

Jack wore a superhero costume and went to the local pharmacy in Georgia to get a Covid shot, his first step toward a return to school and a full life outside of Atlanta.

The vaccine is much bigger than a shot in the arm. It is a huge weight off my shoulders.

Millions of American parents have spent the last two years watching their youngest family members through a dual lens: as the small souls crushed by the isolation of lockdowns or periodic quarks and also as potentially fearsome vectors of infection dwelling in their midst. With another wave of Covid sweeping through parts of the country, the worry has not subsided for many families.

For some, like the Rymers, getting children vaccine this past month put a major piece of a protection puzzle in place for vulnerable adults who are immunocompromised, fighting cancer or dealing with other diseases. With the holiday season here and all the festivities that go along with it, there is a sense of relief.

Dr. Elizabeth Pietralczyk fought back tears as she described how she was afraid of becoming ill and how she tried to hide her fears from her daughter.

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The pop-up vaccine clinic at the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago has coloring pages for children.

Dr. Pietralczyk, a family physician who is the sole wage earner in her household, wanted her to know that she was responsible if something happened to her.

The family of four had a canopy of anxiety that was lifted recently by Sybil.

I felt like I was letting go of a breath I didn't know I was holding.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York is one of the places where parents and children line up for vaccinations after school. More than 3.5 million children from ages 5 to 11 have received their first dose of the vaccine by Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lindsey Leininger is a health policy researcher and clinical professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. It is akin to a major tax on cognitive function. Adults with health issues who have small children have been living with heightened levels of fear and uncertainty for almost two years.

The main goal of the vaccine is to make sure that children are protected against the coronaviruses and to make sure that the strain on the school and day care systems is lessened. For some families with several generations under one roof, the vaccine for young children is a crucial barricade of protection for the most vulnerable adults. It is a hug recovery program.

Nancy Valentin is the director of health equity at the Northwest Center, a nonprofit in Chicago. If you walk into a single- family home, you will see different people living there, whether it is like grandparents or people who are having a hard time paying rent.

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MariCarmen Zavala and her son, Louis Perez, are on their way to get his first shot. Ms. Zavala said that he would help protect the ones that weren't.

The organization ran a vaccine clinic in the Polish and Latino communities, where some people have hesitated to get their children vaccine. Louis Perez was brought by his mother, MariCarmen Zavala.

She said it was important for her to get the vaccine so that her son could do the things he likes to do. Two of my sisters-in-law don't want their children to bevaccinated based on misinformation. He will help protect the ones who are not.

In Ely, Minn., there are two children with a rare disease, one of which is adopted by the Greener family. The child, Emma, is severely disabled and is at high risk of having problems from Covid.

Ms. Greener takes care of all three while her husband is away. She was the only one in the world who was immune. Then, a shot for her husband. Emma had emergency surgery during the Pandemic. Ms. Greener had limited contact with her younger children because they were too young to be vaccine free.

The day that the vaccine was approved for 12 and up is when Ms. Greener drove two hours down to Duluth. I cried all the way in and out. A child had reacted poorly to another vaccine.

Ms. Greener said that she was a little worried about how her daughter would handle it. I only eat and breathe medical, and I think about how I can keep these kids alive. We did everything we could to keep Emma alive. I am dependent on the rest of the world.

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A woman with her children and husband are in Ely, Minn.

Immunized children have become a force shield for families in places with low vaccination rates. Lauren is a government worker in Atlanta with a variety of medical conditions. She is a single mother. Half of Georgia is fully vaccine free.

She started looking for sources to get her an appointment after she found out that they were giving vaccines for 5-to-11-year-olds. I had to tell her that the virus could hurt her or even kill her. When you have to comfort their feelings but also reinforce the reality, the pain is double. We were unable to kiss good night for a long time. It was so strong to have mom guilt in all of us.

In Alaska, where she lives, the issue is the same. It has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation and its caseloads have risen with the Delta surge. She watched as her children crossed the street to the neighbors.

She said that the whole family came down with Covid. I don't know if they are up to date on their immunizations. I didn't want her to play with them, but I also didn't want it to be a stigma in the relationship because of their personal life. Two weeks was a lot of stress.

The time spent with her son and mother was gifts for Ms. Rymer, as she became her anchor.

She is happy to leave those days behind.

Ms. Mooneyhan said that her daughter was the most important person in Jack's world. I know that the maturing and worldliness you get from other people outweighs my selfish grandmother ideas.

His circle is getting wider.

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Ms. Rymer and Jack are at home.


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