GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — Thousands of local parents have been able to arrange COVID-19 vaccine appointments for their little ones following the federal government’s landmark decision to allow the use of the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week.
There are many parents who have been less fortunate and have felt frustrated with how the pediatric vaccine rollout is being handled by local governments.
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The Witlzer family from Gaithersburg put their lives on hold in March 2020, worried about their six-year-old, high-risk son Jackson. Randi Bass of WDVM spoke one-on-one with Jackson’s father, Peter, on Thursday morning.
“Jackson was born with spina bifida, he has complex medical needs and disabilities, and he uses a machine to help him breathe at night,” says Peter Witzler.
Witzler said he was assured by Montgomery County officials that the vaccine rollout for younger children would put kids like Jackson first in line for appointments, but it didn’t.
In a briefing Wednesday, Montgomery County officials made no mention of prioritizing high-risk children for the first round of shots. The county’s vaccination website doesn’t list anything like that either. Parents who tried to make an appointment Wednesday night said it was “free for everyone”.
“I saw [the link] went live, I went online and got one appointment. My wife was on the website trying to get another appointment, and immediately the website started crashing,” he said.
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Witzler and his wife decided that the first appointment would go to their oldest son Teddy, who has no special needs but has more difficulty with virtual learning. For now, Jackson is waiting.
“It’s key to getting them back in class with their friends. We just have to keep putting that off until who knows when we can give them the vaccine,” Witzler said.
On Thursday morning, Witzler said he planned to drive from Gaithersburg all the way to Prince William County, Virginia to try and give Jackson a shot.
He said he is grateful to be able to run around trying to find an appointment for his son.
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