For once, the tears are a relief: DC parents line up to get young kids COVID shots

It’s a day that some parents have been waiting for since the day their children were born: Kids under the age of 5 are now eligible to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

So this time, the tears that filled an auditorium inside Children’s National Hospital’s Research Campus in Upper Northwest Tuesday morning as tots finally got their shots were a sign more of a relief than cause for concern.

Chinmay Hegde and his wife, Sarah Close, made sure their daughter Ada was the first to get an appointment.

“It’ll be nice to know she has some level of protection,” said Close.

Chinmay Hegde and his wife Sarah Close, and their daughter Ada Hegde, 18 months, getting the COVID-19 shot. (WTOP/John Domen)

For Andrea Spriggs, it’ll finally be a chance to get her daughter, Nyla Biglow, out in the real world for the first time in the 18-month-old’s life.

“She was born in December 2020. She was born at 25 weeks so she’s premature,” said Spriggs. “The last two years, she’s spent a lot of time in the hospital” because of chronic lung disease and breathing issues. Every trip to the hospital led to lots of fear about coming home with a potentially deadly respiratory virus.

“It’s been very isolating, to say the least,” said Spriggs. “It’s been hard. It’s been hard. It’s been — it feels like it’s never-ending.”

She added, “We couldn’t see family, we couldn’t see friends — it’s been challenging for my husband and I.”

Spriggs had to quit her job to care for Nyla and admits, “it’s not great mentally. It’s exhausting too. I’ve been talking about this day a very long time,” she confessed. “I’m so excited to get her protected.”

Another mom who was eager to get a young child vaccinated was Dr. Sarah Schaffer DeRoo, who also happens to be a pediatrician with Children’s National. Not only was she there working, but her youngest son Hewitt was there to get a shot.

“I truly feel that parents of children under 5 were left behind,” said Schaffer DeRoo. “Very first in the pandemic, the playgrounds were closed and children didn’t have child care providers. All the day cares were closed, and parents really had to struggle to take care of their children and get their work done.”

Andrea Spriggs and her daughter Nyla Biglow were at Children’s National Hospital’s Research Campus in D.C. getting her first COVID shot. Nyla has chronic lung disease and has been in and out of hospitals since the day she was born. (WTOP/John Domen)

Then you had the long wait between when adults and older kids could get vaccinated.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she said, adding that she believes this day is among the top three or so most notable milestone moments of the pandemic.

“I really think that this is going to change the scope of the pandemic for families,” she said. “The quarantine requirements and isolation requirements will certainly change with time as more children have access to a vaccine and it’s going to make our lives feel a lot more normal.”

That normalcy is what Spriggs is most looking forward to introducing her daughter to.

“Taking her to the grocery store, taking her to Target, just kind of simplicity of life,” is what Spriggs said she is most looking forward to. “Not always asking my husband, ‘Do you think we’re OK in that environment?’ with people that don’t have masks on.”

She added, “Just show her some normalcy.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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