COLUMBIA, Ohio (WCMH) — It has been more than a year since COVID-19 vaccines first became available to the public and now, some of the youngest in our community can get the shot.

Children between the ages of 6 months to five years are eligible for the very first time.

Two families visited Columbus Public Health’s walk-in clinic Wednesday and said their children never experienced a world without COVID 19.

“Don’t even have words how excited I am that she can finally be vaccinated,” said Maeggie Peters, mother of three-year-old Blake, who got her first shot Wednesday.

Peters said the last few years have been difficult because of the pandemic.

“Really, until now, I’ve tried to keep her away from people she didn’t need to be around or people that weren’t family because I didn’t know what they’ve been exposed to or if they had COVID at the time,” she said.

Emma McCullough – mother to 2-year-old Mairin, who was born during the pandemic– agrees.

She said the wait for eligibility to trickle down to toddlers has been a long one.

“You don’t realize how much you took for granted in your own childhood that she now finally gets to experience and that’s just so exciting for both of us,” McCullough said.

Dr. Cameron Webb, a senior advisor to the White House COVID-19 response team, said there are resources available to parents who have questions about the shots.

“Bring it to your local trusted health care provider who’s been involved in your kids’ care since they were born and say, ‘What do you think of this?’”  Webb said.

He said there is still plenty of work to do on the vaccine front in the U.S.

“We got to go back and make sure that people are boosted,” Webb said. “Only 30 percent of our kids 5 to 11 across the country have been vaccinated at this point.”

Peters said this layer of protection is important to her.

“I just can’t wait to take her to the park and not have to worry about her going out and playing with other kids,” she said.

Columbus Public Health has walk-in hours at their main department office and is planning a special Saturday clinic this weekend for families as well.