Sixty-three young people with a high risk of contracting Covid were vaccinated at the Stephen Wiltshire Centre in Fulham this week.
Loss, protection, and a sense of community were just some of the reasons parents and young people decided to get vaccinated, they told us. Staff from Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the NHS hosted the event and blew bubbles, presented toys and chatted warmly to each child.
Once the vaccination was over, the relieved parents explained their personal motivations for getting their children vaccinated.
Naomi Key-Field brought her two children, Daisy and Felix Field, for their vaccinations.
Naomi explained that she felt it was her duty to do everything she could to protect her children from Covid, especially since her husband had died in the first two weeks of the pandemic. He worked in IT for the NHS before dying of a brain tumour alone due to the necessary precautions taken in the hospital.
Naomi wants to be able to hold a ‘celebration of life’ party for her late husband – free of restrictions so the family can properly say goodbye to him with those she loves. She said she ‘wants to be able to hug and offer support to loved ones, something that just is not possible at the moment’. She implores everyone to go and ‘get vaccinated so no one else has to go through what her and her family have been through’.
Despite all this, there have been ‘chinks of light’ as Naomi described. Her son Felix, who recently turned 12, has been thriving at his new special needs school.
Jo McKee’s son, Rio, also got his vaccine that day. He sat happily competing in arm wrestling matches with the NHS staff – and managed to win every time. Watching over this scene, Jo describes all the precautions she’s been taking to ensure the ‘safety of her family’. They put off their yearly holiday to avoid risk of infection and have been religiously following the government’s ‘hands, face, space’ policy. She explained how ‘my main priority is always keeping my family safe’.
She also explained how her brother had died of Covid, and how Jo had also caught it herself. Thankfully, she was nursed back to health by NHS staff. It was ‘really important’ to her that her son had ‘some type of protection against the disease so he would not end up in the same position as her’.
18-year-old Caleb Fikru came with his dad to get vaccinated. His dad stated that getting vaccinated was a ‘must’ to ‘protect yourself and your community’. The pandemic had been ‘difficult’, he says, as it was just the two of them at home following the recent loss of Caleb’s mother.
Caleb has been enjoying college for the past two years where he has been focusing on art and IT. Caleb says that he thinks it’s ‘very important that other children should get the vaccine’. He happily showed his arm and said how it was ‘feeling much better’ before leaving with his dad.
Irene Sandler and her 12-year-old son Isaac walked five minutes to get to the centre. Irene explained her reasons for being vaccinated as simply: “I want to ensure my family is protected.”
She stated how she not ‘think things will ever be normal again’. She explained how she feels like it’s the responsibility as a parent to make sure your child is as safe as possible.
Isaac seemed to agree as he abandoned his playing and clung lovingly to his mother. Optimistically, he declared the pandemic was ‘over’.
Lettie Oliver had just got her vaccine but was, like many people with a fear of needles, was feeling frazzled after the experience. Her mum, Harriet, was very grateful to the amazing staff who had managed to help Lettie through and keep her calm as possible. Lettie had contracted Covid once before – and luckily recovered.
Harriet said she felt ‘so much happier knowing her daughter was protected’ against the new Delta variant. She encourages all parents to ‘get themselves and their children vaccinated’.
Interviews by Penny Hampden-Turner | Pictures by Kevin Poolman
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