Local schools will hold COVID-19 vaccine clinics on-site for students
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Children 16-years-old and up have been eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and now Virginia’s vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula, said it’s possible that those children ages 12 to 15 will be able to get a vaccine by the end of next week.
School districts and school nurses are already experienced in doing on-site vaccinations, for shots like the flu.
In Harrisonburg, some high school students can get their shot at the first on-site clinic next week at Harrisonburg High School. Superintendent Dr. Michael Richards hopes those between the ages of 12 to 15 will get their chance soon, too.
“To make it easier, we want students to be able to access vaccines during school hours, so they don’t have to worry about transportation. They don’t have to worry about a parent coming with them,” Richards said. “If they go to a community clinic somewhere, the parent has to be there to give permission.”
Instead, parents and guardians will sign a consent form allowing the student to get the shot. Richards said Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) wants to break barriers and allow easier access to the vaccine. He said they have already received many consent forms ahead of next week’s vaccine event.
“HHS is not fully reopened yet, but we have a lot of students there and so if we can get most of those students, hopefully, all of those students, who are 16, 17, 18 into the clinic to get their vaccine, that’s a significant number of people vaccinated,” Richards said.
After being vaccinated at a school’s clinic, Richards said HCPS will take note of how many students got their shot as they did with HCPS employees.
Once a vaccine is approved for children 12 to 15, HCPS would like to offer clinics to those students, as well. Richards said those clinics may look different than clinics for those 16-years-old and up, by possibly asking parents or guardians to be present.
Summer school opens another door of opportunity for vaccine distribution.
“We intend to take advantage of the fact that those students will be with us and help give vaccine access to them in the summer,” Richards said.
Virginia’s Secretary of Education Artif Qarni said he looks forward to the vaccine being available to all students. Right now, the Virginia Department of Education has no immediate plans to require students to receive the vaccine.
“At this point, we are not going to mandate it there are certain vaccinations that are mandated by Virginia code but right now we are not going to mandate anything at least that is not the position of the governor but we are encouraging it,” Qarni said.
In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice said the state is ready to hold vaccine clinics in schools in all 55 counties once the vaccine is approved. Justice said they expect 78,000 students ages 12 to 15 to be eligible.
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