KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Wednesday, the Tennessee Department of Health announced providers could begin administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children 12-15.
By Friday afternoon, TDH data showed more than 2,000 kids in that age range had already received their first dose.
"We're just doing our part to make everything normal again," said 14-year-old Eric Quinley. "Get it. It doesn't hurt, and you're helping everybody else by making sure you don't transmit the virus."
Eric and his sister Rachel Quinley, 13, got their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday.
"I didn't feel anything barely," Rachel said. "For me personally, I don't like wearing a mask and I think many people don't, so that's part of why I got it."
Both of their parents work in the medical field and researched the science behind the vaccines. They're thrilled that everyone in their family can now be vaccinated.
"From a practical standpoint, we're all going to be exposed to [COVID-19] eventually. The question is, are you going to be prepared or not?" Jennifer Quinley said. "Knowing that it's very safe, very effective, it was like a no-brainer for us as a family."
Emma-Kate Stibler, a 13-year-old from Morristown, participated in the Pfizer trial that led to the vaccine being authorized for her age group. She just found out that she received the vaccine during the trial and not a placebo.
"I was really excited and I was really happy," Stibler said. "To find out that I actually had it made me feel like a lot safer."
Emma-Kate said she's thrilled to see her friends and classmates get vaccinated too.
"This whole time I thought I was doing something pretty important, but to see that now kids can actually get vaccinated, it makes me feel incredible," she said. "If you want to get back to how things were, then everyone that can should get vaccinated."
Mari Wyrodisck, 13, got her vaccine as soon as eligibility included her age group.
"I want to see my friends more often because I haven't seen my friends in about a year," Mari said. "I don't know who my friends and family are visiting and if they have health issues, so I want to protect them also."
Her mom, Heidi Wyrodisck, said there were many reasons they chose to get it.
"We have a lot of people in our family that are high risk," Heidi said. "We have a responsibility to add to that immunity as much as possible and this will give her more freedoms."
Kaden Shipe, 13, is the last one in his family to get vaccinated. He received his first dose on Saturday.
"I want to not get COVID-19," Kaden said. "I also want to help the community so other people know that's okay to take the vaccine."
His grandmother, Vivian Shipe, has been helping community members get vaccinated for months.
"If we can get these kids vaccinated, we can get those masks off and start living again. It's all about thriving," she said. "That's what we're pushing for: step-by-step, age-by-age."