Ximena Castedo rolled up her son's sleeve Thursday morning, eager to get eight-year-old Roberto Rivero vaccinated on the first day COVID-19 shots were widely available for children between five and 11 years old.

“We are very excited, we actually have been waiting for this day for quite some time,” Castedo said. “After our daughter, who is 15 years old, she got vaccinated, we were really hoping for him to be next and very happy and excited to be here.”

Roberto clenched his eyes closed as the needle approached, but brightened up with a smile under his mask as he was met with applause at the Cohen Children's Medical Center in Queens.

What You Need To Know

  • City-run vaccine sites, hospitals and doctors' offices began vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 Thursday

  • Children have an extra incentive: they're eligible for $100 from the city if they get the shot

  • Starting next week, the vaccine will be available in schools

"We couldn't be happier to actually be here, where he was born, and now where he's actually getting his first shot,” his mom said.

Similar scenes played out around the city, as children went to hospitals, pediatricians' offices, pharmacies and city vaccine sites to get the child-sized dose of the vaccine. If its promises of drastically reducing the risk of serious illness or death weren't enough, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered an extra incentive.

"Kids are eligible for the $100 vaccine incentive. So we want kids to take advantage, families to take advantage of that. Everyone can use a little more money around the holidays. But most importantly, we want our kids and our families to be safe,” he said.

Still, some parents say they won't rush to vaccinate their children, questioning the amount of study and the long-term impacts. Castedo says she understands the worry, but urges them to talk to their pediatricians.

"I do believe a lot in science. These people have been working since day one of the pandemic, trying to get us all vaccinated, so I tell them to do it, believe it, and listen to your pediatricians and go for it,” she said.

And pediatricians around the city say they are having those conversations with their patients. Dr. Ashley Stephens at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia Medical Center has heard from parents worried about the risk of heart inflammation in teenage boys. She says they are more likely to experience that as a result of a COVID infection than a COVID vaccine.

“If you get the actual COVID virus, you’re much more likely to have that inflammation of the heart,” she said. “That’s why even with some side effects, you’ve got to weigh the risk of not getting the vaccine. Because it’s not a choice of if I get the vaccine, what are the side effects of the vaccine, or if I don’t get the vaccine, nothing happens to me.”

It’s a choice parents around the city will be weighing in the coming days.