BILLINGS- When hundreds flocked to the Shrine Auditorium Thursday morning for a COVID-19 vaccine, there was something different about this clinic than before.
Participants were allowed to leave with $ 50 in cash, and children ages 12 to 15 also received a vaccination.
“It’s another reminder that this is finally going to get better,” said Billings Clinic pediatrician Kathryn Lysinger.
She was one of the first to come through the door on Thursday to get a COVID shot for her 12-year-old son Jacob.
It’s something they’ve been waiting for months as a family.
Like most families, hers was hit by the effects of the virus with stints from quarantines, testing positive for the virus itself, and feeling the effects of school and sports activities on the children.
“It’s such a relief as a mom – not just a pediatrician, as a mom – to protect him,” she said.
With a signed consent form, a quick squeeze in the arm, and a plaster to take with him, Jacob quickly got his vaccine and his mother was instructed on what to do next.
As a doctor, Lysinger says children can get very sick from COVID, and nearly 14,000 were hospitalized in a year because of the virus.
“The adolescents are the ones who tend to drive some of the spread, and they’re more likely to spread,” she said.
So when her patient’s parents had questions, she tried to give them clear answers to all concerns.
“And what I’m trying to explain to families is that with vaccines, this vaccine went through exactly the same process as all vaccines,” she said.
In the Pfizer study, the vaccine for 12-15 year olds was 100 percent effective at preventing infection.
And as a mother she derives comfort from that.
“It’s so exciting because we can finally let them be kids,” she said.