Palm Desert Mom Relieved After Son Gets First Shot of COVID Vaccine

Kamari Esquerra

A relief for many parents, as they sign up to get their little ones vaccinated against covid-19 for the first time.

“I feel so relieved now that my son is vaccinated,” said Calista Vassios. “We’ve been waiting for this day basically since (my husband and I) were able to get vaccinated”

Last Tuesday, the CDC approved emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five through eleven, and Vassios did not wait to sign up her 7-year-old to get his first shot in the arm. 

“I made the first available appointment that I could find,” said Vassios. “We’ve been talking about the vaccine when it first became available for adults. I let him know that I’m going to get vaccinated, it’s gonna protect us. Your grandparents are getting vaccinated, we can start to spend more time with them.”

Her son, Alistair, waited almost a year to be eligible for the vaccine.

“When he found out that it wasn’t available for the kids yet, he said ‘Mom, what do I have to do to so that I can get the vaccine?’” Vassios said. “And I said, ‘Well they’re gonna make sure that it’s safe for the kids.’ He actually asked if he could sign up for trials so he could get vaccinated and I said ‘We’re going to go ahead and wait until it’s approved because that’s when I feel safe for him to get the vaccine.’”

On Saturday afternoon, Alistair got his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, one-third of the dose administered to adults.

“It didn’t have that much pain when it first hit my arm, but it had an after pain,” he said.

He says three things motivated him to get the shot. 

“Not dying from the corona, getting a lollipop and meeting Sam the Doggie,” Alistair said.

For many kids, getting shots can be a terrifying experience. Luckily for Alistair, he had “Dr. Dog” to ease the process. 

“Well, I was scared but I got here to meet Sam the Doggie and he kind of helped me,” he said. 

“Therapy dogs are trained to help relieve that stress by providing support, joy and it’s a safe distraction from the actual shot,” said Richard Katz, Executive Director of K9

Here in the Coachella Valley, therapy dogs are available to children getting their vaccine shot at no cost, making the experience for them less nerve-wrecking. 

Now partially vaccinated and coming back for his second shot in three weeks, Alistair and his mother both say they feel much safer knowing they are protecting one another. 

“I feel kind of like there’s an oyster around protecting me from corona,” said Alistair. 

“I wanted him to be protected like my husband and I are, and it’s just another layer of protection for our family to have the kids vaccinated,” said Vassios. 

And they encourage every parent and child who is eligible to do their part to protect others. 

“I think that this is an important opportunity for all of us to protect our community, not just for our own family and our loved ones, but our entire community, and what better way to say ‘I care’ than to go out and get vaccinated,” said Vassios. 

Vaccination appointments for those eligible can be made by visiting or by calling (951) 358-5000.

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