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Eight year-old Ann Arbor boy says he is proud to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Cole Bednarski

An 8 year-old Ann Arbor boy is among the first children between the ages of 5 and 11 in Michigan to get vaccinated.

Bear Bednarski is an Ann Arbor 3rd grader, who just days after it became available for younger children, got vaccinated against COVID-19.

WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Bear and his mother, Cole Bednarski, about the experience, now that children between the ages of 5 and 11 are eligible to get vaccinated against the virus.


Lisa Barry: Most infants receive a series of vaccinations in their first year or two of life to combat a number of illnesses. But, just this week, children between the ages of five and 11 began to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This is Lisa Barry, and an eight year old Ann Arbor boy was among the first to get the vaccine and joins us now to talk about that experience. Welcome, Bear Bednarski and his mom, Cole. Thanks for talking to us here on WEMU.

Credit Cole Bednarski
Cole Bednarski and her son Bear.

Cole Bednarski: Thanks for having us. 

Lisa Barry: Bear, you're eight years old. What grade does that mean you're in? 

Bear Bednarski: Third. 

Lisa Barry: Third grade. I know you're only eight, but do you realize what's been happening with this pandemic and this illness and how has your mom explained to you what's been going on for the last year or so? 

Bear Bednarski: Well, last year, they told me that a lot of people are getting sick and dying just because of COVID. And I kind of wanted to not get sick. 

Lisa Barry: So, you got the vaccine and when did that happen?

Bear Bednarski: Yesterday.

Lisa Barry: Can you tell us about what that was like? Where did you go and what happened?

Bear Bednarski: Well, I went to the Meijer Pharmacy and got this shot because it was exciting for me. And my arm, that I got the shot o is kind of hurting now. 

Lisa Barry: Mm-Hmm. 

Bear Bednarski: But it's fine. 

Lisa Barry: Why was it exciting for you? 

Bear Bednarski: It's exciting for me because I didn't want to get sick and make my own whole family sick.

Lisa Barry: Hmm. So, what would you say to other kids your age or between the ages of five and 11 who could get the vaccine now? Would you tell them go ahead? You think they should do it?

Bear Bednarski: Yeah, they should probably do it. I don't really want anyone to get sick. 

Lisa Barry: So, Cole, was this a difficult decision for you to make to get your son vaccinated? 

Cole Bednarski: Oh no, not at all. Our family believes strongly in science and in keeping ourselves and our community safe. So, when we heard that the opportunity for kids of his age were going to be able to get the vaccine, we started doing research immediately to get him in. 

Lisa Barry: Did he experience school at home last year when the pandemic was really peaking?

Cole Bednarski: He did. Ann Arbor Public Schools was virtual for the majority of the year. He did go back when they had hybrid learning. So, he was able to spend time with his friends at school and work face-to-face with with his teacher for that time. 

Lisa Barry: This pandemic and this virus has brought so many challenges to so many different people. But I often think about the kids. You see kids with masks. And I wonder how much they understand of what's really going on. 

Cole Bednarski: Bear has been--well, Bear has always been--an incredibly observant person. But the pandemic was very hard for him, just being empathetic and observant in a lot of different ways. He's a very social person, and he really needs that engagement with his peers. And so, not having it was really difficult, and I'm pretty sure that he fulfilled his quota of parent time over the year. He was about done with us. He said, "Let me go back to school."

Lisa Barry: But do you have any sense that perhaps this was a special time that someday you'll look back at and think, "Wow, we had a lot of together time when Bear was seven or eight years old?"

Credit Cole Bednarski
The Bednarski family with their RV.

Cole Bednarski: Oh, absolutely. We were not an anomaly to this, I guess. But when we found out that Ann Arbor Public Schools was going to be going virtual, we actually bought an RV and traveled around the country for three months. So, Bear's virtual experience was incredibly virtual, because there were times that he was on a mountain in Montana, logging in for morning meeting for school. 

Lisa Barry: So you did make the best of a not-so-great situation?

Cole Bednarski: We did our best. 

Lisa Barry: Bear, here it is. The morning after you got the vaccine at eight years old. You say your arm's a little sore, but, otherwise, do you feel happy that you did it? Are you proud of yourself?

Bear Bednarski: Yeah. 

Lisa Barry: Can you tell us a little bit more about why? 

Bear Bednarski: I'm kind of proud because I'm most proud of the people that made the kid vaccine for helping us. And it took a lot of work for us to get in. I'm proud of my family and me for getting the vaccination. 

Lisa Barry: Some people don't want to get it. What do you want to say to them? 

Bear Bednarski: I say that they should really get it because my mom and my dad have got it before, and it hurt for a little bit and then stopped, and they've never got COVID since then. They should really get it. 

Lisa Barry: Do you think that's going to allow you to have more freedoms to play with your friends or get out in the world more at this point? 

Bear Bednarski: Yeah, seems like it. 

Lisa Barry: And, Cole, what must you be feeling as Bear's mother at this time in this pandemic and the fact that he is now vaccinated? 

Cole Bednarski: Oh, it's a huge relief. We have postponed trips over the last year and a half where we were going to go to theme parks or even funerals out of state because we just didn't feel safe taking him somewhere where he could be exposed to that many people outside of our sort of bubble. And so, knowing that he is just that much closer to being safe is a huge relief for a lot of reasons, but mostly just that peace of mind. 

Lisa Barry: Eight year-old Bear Bednarski and his mom, Cole. Thanks so much for sharing this with us here on 89-1 WEMU. 

Bear Bednarski: Yep. 

Cole Bednarski: Thank you so much. We're happy to be here and help. 

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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