PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It's being called a monumental step in the fight against COVID-19 -- 28 million children ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to get vaccinated. The first shots were administered Wednesday.
Getting young children protected will help families get their lives back to normal and appointments for the new pediatric vaccine are filling up fast.
Eyewitness News found one family in Montgomery County who didn't want to waste any time.
Evan Borowsky, 7, was the first to get the new pediatric vaccine at Eric's Drug Store in Horsham.
"I was kind of nervous," Evan said, "but I was really excited."
Evan's parents, who live in Upper Dublin, were eager to get him vaccinated.
"It's a huge relief to know we're getting parts of our life back," Lara Borowsky said.
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 to 11 is going into little arms quickly after it was cleared by both the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This is the path to return to normal, return to more normal and easier school days, easier times in families," Dr. Susan Coffin with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said.
Coffin says there could be some temporary arm soreness from the vaccine and possibly mild flu-like symptoms that resolve quickly.
"I felt very nervous, but now it's over," Kailyn Cronin said. "Now we're vaccinated. That's a big step into making the world normal again."
Philadelphia's acting health commissioner says there might be some initial delays in supplies, but there will be plenty of the lower dose pediatric vaccine given in two shots three weeks apart.
"This is a big step back toward normal and I'm very excited to see it happen," Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said. "We're working hard to make sure it's available in as many places as possible, as soon as possible."
Possible side effects include arm soreness, fever, fatigue and headache. They're usually minor and go away quickly.
"There are very few long-term side effects associated with this vaccine," Coffin said, "and I think we should be excited about this. This is a momentous occasion."
Some parents are hesitant, concerned about how safe the vaccine is for their children.
"They can't convince me that within less than a year that they've done a lot of research," Dana Moll said.
But health officials want them to know this vaccine is safe.
"We have followed the scientific process," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "We have done our due diligence. Please know we have thoroughly reviewed all of the available safety, immunogenicity and efficacy data before recommending this vaccine for your child."
The CDC says every million doses given to children ages 5 to 11 would prevent about 58,000 COVID-19 cases and 226 hospitalizations in that group.
While COVID-19 cases are declining, children now make up a disproportionate number of new infections.
"Getting children vaccinated will help make the winter holidays, like Christmas and Hanukkah, as safe as possible for everyone," Bettigole said. "But Thanksgiving will be here before the kids are fully vaccinated so we have to continue our due diligence."
Bettigole says masks are still mandated inside in the city because the virus is still a threat, even though cases are declining. She's hoping the new pediatric vaccine will help.
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