Johnston kids, ages 12-15, line up for Covid vaccine

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Eight trained professionals doled out jabs to Johnston's youngest residents approved for the Covid-19 vaccine.

More than 150 youngsters signed up for the shot.

Among the needle-bearers, Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena, a registered nurse, swabbed arms and poked 12-15 year-olds with the Pfizer vaccine.

Logan Horne, 14, a freshman at Johnston High School, walked up to Polisena's table, accompanied by his mother, Jeana Halstead.

"I just thought that getting the vaccine is better for everyone," Halstead said, taking a seat behind her son. "It's better for family and friends. He'll be able to hug and kiss family and grandparents again."

Polisena offered Horne his fist. The quiet, slightly nervous teenager offered his fist. They bumped.

"Which arm?" Polisena asked.

Horne chose his left, and the mayor swabbed, and then injected the vaccine. The teenager, his mouth and nose hidden by a facemask, smiled with his eyes and stood.

He walked to the observation area set up in the Johnston Indoor Recreation Center, followed by his mother.

Police Chief Joseph Razza stood nearby, watching his town's residents file in and out of the orderly POD (Point of Distribution) clinic, following narrow carpets and small orange cones.

It wasn't the first POD clinic in town. Vaccine dissemination has been rolling through the Johnston population in waves.

First, adults 75 and older lined up for the vaccine; then school faculty and first-responders.

"You want to protect yourself, your family and loved ones," Razza said.

Thousands of the region's residents have been vaccinated at Johnston's POD clinics.

More than 5,500 local residents received the shot last month, and more than 6,500 the month before, Razza said.

So far, Johnston POD organizers have witnessed practically no hiccups.

"We had 151 sign up for this POD," Razza said. "To be honest, that's a decent number; a respectable number. But we always wish we could do more."

Razza said public health officials have told him they hope to start vaccinating children under 12 by August.

"What some people don't realize is that some of these kids could be carrying the virus, but they don't know it," Razza said. "They could be walking around asymptomatic, but they could be spreading it to their parents and grandparents."

Johnston Fire Lt. Mike Calise, who is also a registered nurse, and Capt. Tom McCormick, sat in a screened-in area of the gymnasium called "the pharmacy," filling syringes from vials.

For the public safety officers gathered to oversee the operation, the small vials and full syringes represented liquid hope.

"It was a lift, but it got done," Razza said. "There's a light at the end of the tunnel."

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