Because the new COVID variant BA.5 gained traction in early July, J's vaccination was an immediate priority.
I had no preference between Moderna and Pfizer. My only question was where can we get one and when?
I called our pediatrician, but they didn't offer the pediatric vaccine.
Google led me to the Baltimore City Health Department's immunization program for parents and children.
I called To Immunize Kids Everywhere, or TIKE, a city vaccination program offering free COVID-19 vaccines for all ages. We didn't need to make an appointment.
My partner took our son to the TIKE clinic on E Fayette Street, prepared to wait.
Based on our experiences at testing and vaccination sites, we assumed the TIKE clinic would be a zoo.
My partner texted a photo of our son with his vaccination card. That was quick!
There was no line, the administration of the vaccine was simple.
We were delighted that the process was so easy, but wondered, where IS everyone?
The TIKE immunization clinic at 1200 E Fayette St offers pediatric vaccines on Thursdays and Fridays in July. The schedule changes monthly.
Free TIKE clinics are only available during regular working hours, but there are other options.
Baltimore City Health Department publishes weekly schedules of walk-up vaccine clinics on their website and social media.
To find pharmacies and other clinics that offer the pediatric vaccine, go to the Maryland COVID-19 website and type in your zip code.
Prepare by talking to your toddler about why we get vaccines: to get sick less often and to protect others. Tell them who they know who have gotten vaccinated.
Try deep calming breaths with your toddler so they are relaxed when they receive the vaccine. Inhale for five counts, exhale for five counts.
What to bring: toys, water, a snack for the line, a comfort object, a special treat for afterward.
The Moderna vaccine has two doses four to eight weeks apart, with a third dose for immunocompromised kids. The Pfizer vaccine has three doses, three to eight weeks apart.
Children could experience side effects: sore arm, loss of appetite, sleepiness, crying, or irritability. They should resolve in a few days.

COVID Vaccine Resources in Baltimore City

Baltimore City Health Department

University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) at State Center

Maryland Department of Health COVID-19 Response Site

Hayley Thornton-Kennedy is a Baltimore-based illustrator. To read more of her work, visit her website or find her on Instagram @hayleypowersstudio.

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