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'I wanted a chance to have a junior year': Teens getting COVID vaccine encourage peers to join them

Starting Tuesday, Gateway will not give first doses of Pfizer. You can get Pfizer at Regency, the Legends Center, Celebration Church, or Panama Pharmacy.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The official 'day one' of vaccinations for everyone 16 and older in Florida is a wrap and the numbers show demand has grown.

Preliminary data from the state shows more than 4600 doses were given Monday across Duval County's state and federal vaccine sites. That's double the numbers from each day this weekend, though weekends usually have lower numbers statewide compared to week days.

An important change to know about is for 16 and 17-year-olds getting the vaccine because they must get Pfizer since it is the only one approved for people under 18. Starting Tuesday Gateway will not give first doses of Pfizer and will only give the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. You can get Pfizer at Regency, the Legends Center, Celebration Church, or Panama Pharmacy.

"I expected the shot to be worse because who likes shots?" said 16-year old William Hicks.

Hicks got vaccinated Monday at Gateway. It's a step back to normal after his teenage years got interrupted by COVID-19. For another 16-year old, David Hartley, instead of math homework, normal teen worries turned into feeling responsible for his grandma's health.

"I got it because of my grandma because I live with my grandma," Hartley said about the vaccine. "So you know, it's especially bad for her she gets it," he said about COVID-19.

Both Hartley and Hicks are doing online school.

"I wanted to get the shot because I want to feel safe going back to school in the fall," said Hicks. "I didn't opt to go back this whole school year because I was afraid of covid so I wanted a chance to have a junior year."

On Monday more than 600 first doses of Pfizer were given at Gateway and twice as many second doses were given. Regency vaccinated close to 2,800 people and can do 200 more than that.

Hicks and Hartley encourage their peers to get vaccinated. First Coast News asked Hartley how he felt about finally getting the vaccine; his answer was focused on getting through that school day.

"Gotta go to school after this still so I guess I'm okay," he said.

Now he's one shot closer to going to school in a building.

RELATED: Jacksonville vaccine sites see early rush, steady numbers throughout first day adults 16 and older can get the vaccine

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