Skip to main content

One of the first teens to get the COVID-19 vaccine shares his story

By Emilie Poplett | June 1, 2021 | Healthy Lifestyle, Coronavirus

Chris Morris is, for the most part, a typical 16-year-old. He loves his friends, he enjoys art, and he’s on his high school’s robotics team. But one thing makes him a little different from his peers right now: He was one of the first kids in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Along with his sister Anna, Chris is part of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine trial. He got the vaccine back in early December, even before it was available for adults.

The FDA recently approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in kids ages 12-15. Trials found the vaccine to be extremely effective and safe in this age group, with zero breakthrough infections in over 2,000 kids vaccinated.1

But, understandably, some parents still have reservations. To help ease some concerns, Chris wanted to share his experience with us. Here’s what he had to say.

Need more information about COVID-19 vaccines for kids and teens?

The CDC shares information about:

  • The safety and effectiveness of the vaccines for kids 12+
  • Possible side effects and potential risks
  • How and where to get an appointment
  • Tips for your child’s vaccine appointment

Visit the CDC and other reputable sources to make the best decision for your family.

Why did you decide you wanted to get the vaccine?

I miss my relatives a lot, my grandparents on both my mom and dad’s side. We hadn’t seen them in months. That’s pretty difficult for everyone—for them, for us. Plus getting to see my friends again and going back to school. I think it’s so important for the whole country to have a vaccine out as soon as possible, so I’m willing to take any risks for me order to help the country as a whole.

What drove you to become part of the vaccine trial?

The value that a vaccine would bring to everybody is so high that there was no real reason not to do it. There wasn’t really a downside for me. We discussed the science of how it works, and I felt confident.

Did you have any side effects when you got your shots?

I was on the higher end of the spectrum for side effects. I had chills at night, a headache, lower back pain, my arm was sore, I had a fever. My dad had the same thing, and my mom had almost no symptoms at all. But it didn’t last more than two days. By the third day, everything was getting back to normal.

While my side effects were pretty bad, it wasn’t something to worry about because there’s no long-term impact.

Some people are choosing not to get the vaccine because of needle phobia. How did you manage your fear?

I’m terrified of needles. It’s one of the things I’m the most scared of. But I decided a tiny little prick doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t take the long-term benefit of being vaccinated. It’s such a relief not to have to worry about all the impacts on my day-to-day life. Knowing those benefits were coming made it easier to deal with the fear.

Graphic shares tips for coping with needle phobias, which 1 in 4 U.S. adults stuffer from: Talk to your doctor, bring a trusted friend or relative, distract with your phone, look away during the shot, ask about topical anesthetics.

How does it feel being one of the first kids in the country to get the vaccine?

There’s definitely bragging rights. Probably too much, but such is life.

What’s next in the research study? What all does it involve for you?

We’ve had three or four appointments now for the initial shot and blood tests, that kind of thing. Every week we fill out a survey on our phone asking if we’ve had any COVID symptoms. It’s fairly low-impact because it gives us a reminder every week. The doctor was on standby for the next couple of days after each shot. We talked to him the first time, and he reassured us everything sounded normal. They were super responsive.

How has your life changed since getting the vaccine?

Since I got vaccinated, we’ve gotten together a couple of times with my grandparents. It’s been so nice seeing them again. We all feel confident that we’re safe at this point. And I’m seeing my friends more than I was before. I got my license recently, so I’ve been going out more.  It’s nice to be able to see other humans. I’m back to school nearly full time now, and it’s been great. The only thing that’s really out of the ordinary is wearing masks, but it’s pretty minimal impact and has been pretty easy to  adjust to.

What do you want other kids (or their parents) to know about your experience?

While it was hard dealing with the side effects at the time, the long-term benefit for yourself, your kids, everybody that you know and people you don’t know… the benefit for those people is so great. It’s a massive improvement to your daily life and to everybody around you. The sooner everybody’s vaccinated, the sooner we can start getting back to a normal life, which will be great for everybody.