‘It’s nothing to be scared of’: Games help ease kids’ vaccine nerves

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She had been a bit nervous, but in the end, Grace Peagram’s first COVID-19 vaccine went smoothly.

“I would say it’s nothing to be scared of,” the eight-year-old from Mount Martha said. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

Grace Peagram, 8, with mum Skye Peagram at Frankston Community Vaccination Hub. Credit:Joe Armao

A bonus was the Frankston community vaccination hub being decorated in an enchanted forest theme, complete with balloons.

Child patients got a goody bag with a squish ball, a fidget spinner and a colouring-in book.

“And the nurses were very lovely,” Grace said.

While some bookings across Australia were cancelled due to supply issues, many vaccinations did go ahead on Monday, the first day Australian children aged five to 11 were eligible for the jab.

Indi Di Natale, 10, at Frankston community vaccination hub.Credit:Joe Armao

Grace’s mother, Skye Peagram, said she hoped the jab would “kick off that next chapter” for the family, including a planned family trip to Fiji in March.

“I think we’ll just feel a bit more at ease going to places like the movies, ” she said. “When Grace does go back to school, I won’t be as concerned if she’s exposed to the virus now.

“Hopefully she doesn’t get as unwell as if she were unvaccinated and hopefully doesn’t pass it on. She won’t be as contagious.”

Ms Peagram said one of Grace’s friends was recovering from cancer treatment and it motivated Grace to get vaccinated “to help keep her friend safe”.

Charlie Murphy, 10, gets a little arm art after her COVID jab at Chelsea Heights Medical Centre.

Natalie Bergen, of Merricks on the Mornington Peninsula was pleased that twins Kato and Indi Di Natale got vaccination slots at the Frankston hub well before the school year starts.

She said they enjoyed the kids’ games at the hub including virtual reality goggles.

Ms Bergen feels “a bit more relaxed” about the boys going out now that they’ve had their first vaccine dose.

Also vaccinated on Monday, at the Chelsea Heights medical centre in Melbourne’s south-east, was Charlie Murphy, 10.

An image of a coronavirus being vaccinated on Charlie Murphy’s arm at Chelsea Heights Medical Centre.

Charlie was entertained before the vaccination by a balloon-twisting artist and after the jab, her arm was painted with the image of a coronavirus being vaccinated – a design she requested.

Her mother, Helen Murphy, said the vaccine was “the only way forward to keep everyone safe, without having to continuously lock down”.

Ms Murphy said as well as feeling Charlie would be safer, it would protect vulnerable people around her such as one of her grandparents who had a lung condition, and schoolmates who were immuno-compromised and couldn’t be vaccinated.

Megan Mills, of Bundoora, said she felt happy and relieved that her 11-year-old daughter Chloe was vaccinated at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital at 8.45am on Monday.

She said vaccines reduced the probability of Chloe or her family getting sick or having severe symptoms.

Ms Mills and her husband work in disability and Chloe’s teenage brothers “are out and about with their friends” and one brother works in the food industry.

Ms Mills said while there were concerns about the side effects of the vaccine, “I think in the big scheme of things I’ve done the right thing for my children”.

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