Monday morning at the Spectrum Health Integrated Care Campus – East Beltline, Andrea Finnigan breathed a long-awaited sigh of relief.

She’d been awaiting this moment for quite some time.

Finnigan made back-to-back appointments for her daughters—Teagan, 3, and Sophie, 14 months—to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, now approved for ages 6 months and older.

She and her husband, Eric, have been cautious these past few years to help ensure the safety of their daughters. And despite a few health scares, no one in their immediate family has fallen ill with COVID-19.

The Rockford, Michigan, couple had also agreed they would stay masked up in crowds until both their girls were fully vaccinated.

“We have been waiting a very long time for this,” Finnigan said, as Sophie got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “One quick poke and we’re done.”

Sophie finished up quickly.

“See, that wasn’t bad,” Finnigan said to her daughter. “Didn’t even hurt, did it?”

On the way to the appointment, Teagan had told her mom she would be brave. But once they got there, Teagan volunteered her little sister Sophie to go first.

So Teagan got her shot next.

Within minutes, both girls had received stickers and were on their way to being fully vaccinated.

Finnigan, who works at Spectrum Health, has long understood the importance of the vaccine.

When she received her COVID-19 booster shot in October, she chose the curbside option, which allowed Teagan to see the entire process. She explained how the vaccine helps keep people healthy.

“She’s starting to understand why we need to do this,” Finnigan said.

“Shots make us stay healthy, mommy,” Teagan said, admiring the Batman Band-Aid on her thigh.

Finnigan said she feels like her family is on its way to resuming some normalcy.

Teagan starts school in the fall, so the timing of the vaccination worked out perfectly. She’ll receive her last dose the day before she starts her first day of school.

“I’m feeling all of the emotions right now,” Finnigan said, buckling her girls into the car after they finished up. “I know that the vaccine won’t protect us completely from infection. But I am confident that if we do get the disease, we know there will be limited risk of hospitalization or serious illness.”

After talking to a pediatrician and infectious disease physicians, she learned the vaccine is the best way to help protect her girls.

Finnigan even promised Teagan she’d sign her up for dance, ballet or gymnastics once she gets her shots.

Rosemary Olivero, MD, section chief for pediatric infectious disease at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, said she knows some parents may still be on the fence, but the vaccine offers the best course of protection for little ones.

“The Pfizer vaccine is a three-dose series and the Moderna vaccine is a two-dose series—and both are extremely safe and effective,” Dr. Olivero said. “This is an incredibly important health protection for young children. And my preference would be that all children get vaccinated sooner than later.”

Dr. Olivero encourages anyone still undecided to speak to their child’s pediatrician or family medicine doctor.

Having that conversation is the best way to consider risks and benefits.

Finnigan said there was never any question as to whether her kids would be vaccinated.

“I would never want to take a chance on my girls’ health,” Finnigan said. “The thought that one or both could be hospitalized, have lasting effects of the disease, or even die from COVID-19 scares me.

“Especially knowing there was something I could have done to help prevent that … something as simple as the vaccine.”