Parents bypass pediatrician, opt for drive-through COVID-19 vaccines

After more than a year of social distancing, masks, and other COVID-19 restrictions, Chandler Kirkland thinks a little pain is worth the price of getting back to some modicum of normal. She was one of the many teenagers eager to get her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Friday at the Viral Solutions drive-through vaccination site in Decatur.

"I can go out now, go on vacations, have sleepovers with my friends again," said the 13-year-old, smiling wide behind her mask.

Yusef Cohen admits he didn't want to get vaccinated, that is until the rules changed at his school.

"When the CDC said it was okay not to wear a mask outside if you're vaccinated, my school said you didn't have to either. I'm tired of wearing masks, so I figured I'd get the shot," said the 14-year-old DeKalb County resident who was vaccinated Friday.

Viral Solutions initially set up locations across metro Atlanta for COVID-19 tests last year, then added Moderna and Pfizer immunizations for adults. After the FDA approved the emergency authorization of Pfizer for kids 12 and older, the agency's service expanded, along with the lines of eager parents.

"We have elderly grandparents in the family and even though a lot of the adults in the family are vaccinated, I felt guilty taking the kids around them. Now, I don't have to feel guilty," said Veronika Bari as she waited for her son to get tested at the Clairmont Road site.

But surveys like the Kaiser Family Foundation's monthly "COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor" show parents have mixed feelings about vaccinating their teens and tweens.

Only a third said they would vaccinate their children as quickly as possible. A fourth said they will not vaccinate and18% will only do so if it's required by their school. Approximately 30% of those surveyed said they want to wait and see how the vaccine works.

"I was really concerned about the vaccine. I was. But, ultimately decided the risks of the virus are much worse than the side effects of the vaccine," said Debbie Cohen, who allowed her son Yusef to make the final decision about his immunization.

Viral Solutions sites have medical professionals on staff, including physicians’ assistants who see each patient before they leave. Sites are open in Atlanta, Austell, Marietta, Norcross, and south DeKalb County.

"The more people who are vaccinated, the more it's going to help everyone else," said Viral Solutions site manager Rodney Patterson.

Some sites are open on Saturday. Visit for more information.

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