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'Light ... at the end of a really long, dark tunnel' | Austin mom says she was teary-eyed watching 5-year-old get her COVID-19 vaccine

An Austin mom told KVUE she's happy to help keep her child and the community safe after the 5-year-old got vaccinated.

AUSTIN, Texas — It was a moment Brandi Swicegood said she's hoped would happen. 

"We've been sort of waiting on tenterhooks for the day when it would be approved for her age group," Swicegood said of the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. "We've been following the news really closely and really anxious for that day when she could finally get vaccinated. So for her to be able to finally be able to not only be safe herself but also play a role in making our entire community safer, just was huge for us."

Swicegood and her husband have a 5-year-old daughter who got her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Thursday. 

"Both my husband and I were a little teary-eyed," said Swicegood. "Just with the relief. It felt like the light of a really – at the end of a really long, dark tunnel."

Meanwhile, Heather Pederson said she's been looking for a vaccine appointment for her 7-year-old since she first heard about the approval. 

"She's been asking me repeatedly if doctors were working on medicine or working on a shot," Pederson said, explaining on Friday she found an appointment for her daughter. 

Pederson had COVID-19 before the vaccine became available, and since then, she's been vaccinated. 

"We're prepared for side effects, and I definitely had side effects to it," Pederson said of the vaccine. "But it was – it only lasted two days versus two weeks."

Swicegood said there was only a little hesitancy with their decision. 

"But I would say no more so than any other vaccination that she's had from the time she was very small and we brought her home," said Swicegood. "There's always a worry that there's going to be some sort of reaction, but she's been fine with all her other vaccines, and she was fine so far with this one too. And we felt safe with the recommendations of her doctors and our doctors, as well as the scientific community at large."

KVUE reached out to parents on social media about the pediatric vaccine and some said they either would not be signing their kids up or are waiting for more information.

Hesitancy is something health leaders say they're working to address by talking with partner organizations about messaging and getting info out to school nurses and providers, even if they aren't administering vaccines.

For both Pederson and Swicegood, they're also excited holidays will look a little closer to normal this year.

"We are really, really looking forward to that," said Swicegood. "And that was another one of the big reasons we wanted to get her vaccinated as soon as possible: so she can safely be around her grandparents and her aunt, who is immunocompromised." 

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