GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — Thousands of local parents have been able to secure COVID-19 vaccine appointments for their little ones after the landmark decision from the federal government allowing the use of the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week.
There are many parents who weren’t as lucky, feeling frustrated about how the pediatric vaccine rollout is being handled by local governments.
The Witlzer Family of Gaithersburg put their lives on pause back in March of 2020, worried about their six-year-old, high-risk son Jackson. WDVM’s Randi Bass spoke one-on-one with Jackson’s father, Peter, 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,” said Peter Witzler.
Witzler said he had been assured by Montgomery County officials the vaccine rollout for younger kids would put kids like Jackson at the front of the line for appointments, but that didn’t happen.
In a briefing Wednesday, Montgomery County officials made no mention of prioritizing high-risk children for the first round of shots. The county vaccination website doesn’t mention anything like that either. Parents who tried to make appointments Wednesday evening said it was a “free for all.”
“I saw [the link] went live, I got online and I got one appointment. My wife was on the website trying to get another appointment, and immediately the website started crashing,” he said.
Witzler and his wife decided the first appointment would go to their older son Teddy, who does not have special needs, but has been struggling more with virtual learning. For now, Jackson waits.
“Getting their shots in their arms is the key to getting them back in the classroom with their friends. We’re just having to continue to delay that until who knows when we can get them the vaccine,” said Witzler.
Thursday morning, Witzler said he was planning to drive from Gaithersburg all the way out to Prince William County, Va. to try and get Jackson a shot.
He said he’s thankful to be in a position to be able to run around to try and find his son an appointment.