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A boy scared to get his COVID shot whispered his high-risk friend's name for courage


Like many of us, 10-year-old Eli McKivigan again has, as he puts it, a...

ELI MCKIVIGAN: Phobia of needles.

SHAPIRO: He really doesn't like them.

ELI: Like, last year or two years ago, I was scared to get my flu shot, and I hid under the water fountain.


So Eli was not thrilled about getting a COVID vaccine. Here he is with his mom, Meg St-Esprit.

ELI: So when we got there, like, we walked in and, like, I started, like, thinking about it.

MEG ST-ESPRIT: Started thinking about the shot. And then when we got into the room is when we started talking about Brendan, right?

ELI: Brendan. Yeah.

SHAPIRO: Brendan Edmondson, also 10 years old, is one of Eli's best friends. He didn't mind the vaccine so much.

BRENDAN EDMONDSON: It's, like, the smallest needle in the world. I couldn't even feel it.

SHAPIRO: Brendan has Kawasaki disease, which increases his COVID risk, meaning the two boys barely saw each other for most of the pandemic, even though they live two blocks apart.

KELLY: Eli's been worried about him. So when it came time to get that first dose?

ELI: Like, I was like, I can do this so Brendan's safe.

KELLY: He whispered Brendan's name over and over again as he got the shot. Here's Brendan's mom, Jillian Edmondson.

JILLIAN EDMONDSON: When Meg told me that he did that, I was just astounded. I mean, it's just really cool to see a 10-year-old so selfless. And it just makes me wonder why adults can't be that selfless.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: You all together?

ST-ESPRIT: Yeah. Does one of you want to go to this lady here?

SHAPIRO: And this past weekend, Brendan and Eli got their second shots together.

ST-ESPRIT: Oh, you guys can do them literally at the same time.

SHAPIRO: No drama this time.

ST-ESPRIT: Eli, you're done. Woo (ph).

KELLY: And to any other kids or adults who might have that same phobia of needles, Eli has this to say.

ELI: Don't be scared. Be happy. You're helping the world out. You're helping everybody in the world. Bye.

SHAPIRO: And when in doubt, bring a friend.

KELLY: So sweet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.