How dogs and cookies are helping Austin kids get vaccinated

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Seven-year-old Jean Kenney went so far as to call getting her COVID-19 vaccine Saturday “fun.” Our guess is it’s not really the vaccine that was the fun part, but that it was the therapy dogs from The Dog Alliance and stuffed animal toy at the end that really sealed the deal.

“I love dogs, they’re actually my favorite animal,” Kenney said as she patiently sat while her 15-minute post-vaccine waiting period expired.

Vax Together Austin, a local nonprofit, along with Walgreens and Austin Independent School District, hosted a vaccine clinic for kids Saturday with the goal of making the vaccine process less intimidating for kids who are now eligible to get vaccinated.

The event was at AISD’s performing arts center instead of in a hospital setting, and it came with toys, therapy dogs, and cookies — obviously.

“We have a lot of children that are holding the dogs while they get their vaccine or they’ll ask to see the dog right after to calm down again,” Sharon Cohan, executive director and founder of Vax Together Austin, said.

Cohan says because of the relaxed environment of shot clinics like this, they tend to vaccinate a large number of people in underserved communities.

“I think by the end of the day we will have vaccinated at least 300 children,” she said.

  • Bobby the therapy dog
  • Bobby the therapy dog
  • Bobby the therapy dog

Kenney was just one of those roughly 300 kids who showed up Saturday to get their first round of the Pfizer vaccine series after it was federally approved for kids aged 5 through 11.

For families like hers, it means some of the younger members of the family getting fully vaccinated before the holidays.

“To have the extra safety for all of our grandparents is good,” said Kenney’s mom, Sarah Cavanaugh.

If you missed Saturday’s event, there’s another clinic next weekend, Nov. 20, at the AISD Central Office. Therapy dogs will be present again. You can sign up on the Vax Together Austin website here.

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