‘It’s a good birthday present’: Teen celebrates Sweet Sixteen with vaccine

MADISON, Wis. – Many 16-year-olds have one gift on their mind: finally getting a driver’s license. Jackson Vanderloo’s sweet 16th birthday was a little different.

Early on the morning of his birthday Thursday, he headed to a UW Health clinic, where he was welcomed by a crew singing happy birthday. He then got his first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot, about as soon as he was eligible.

“Everyone was excited for him,” his mom, Darsee Vanderloo, said. “I figured he’s got to be one of the youngest people they ever gave the vaccine to.”

She worked hard to secure her son an appointment on the day of his birthday.

“It was a process,” Darsee Vanderloo said. “Some places wouldn’t book him until he was actually 16. I went on the (Wisconsin Vaccine Hunters and Angels) Facebook group and said, ‘Where do I go? How do I find him one? This is what he wants for his birthday.’”

They say starting the immunization process is a big relief.

“I’m ready, because once I’m fully vaccinated, I’ll be able to do more things safer. I’ll get to return a little bit to normal life or life before COVID, kind of,” Jackson Vanderloo said. “It’s definitely unique. I think it’s a good birthday present.”

On Friday, Jackson Vanderloo hits another milestone: getting his driver’s license. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to safely seeing his friends again when vaccinated.

“It’s an extra layer of protection,” he said. “It’s definitely going to help me feel more comfortable, I think.”