Schools play a leading role in promoting vaccines for young people

With the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for young children, many elementary schools in the United States are preparing to offer the vaccines, which educators consider essential for students to learn in person and for the classroom experience to be. closer to what it once was. Some district leaders say that providing on-campus immunization clinics, with the participation of trusted school staff, is essential to improve access and help overcome hesitation, especially in communities with high rates of vaccination. overall immunizations are low. Yet many school systems choose not to offer elementary schools as hosts for vaccination sites after some middle and high schools that have offered vaccines have been pushed back. More than 250 families have signed up for vaccinations that began Thursday at elementary schools in Duluth, Minnesota, which held clinics immediately after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave final approval for the COVID-19 vaccine to Pfizer for children ages 5 to 11. .

Superintendent John Magas called vaccines a “game changer.” “It brings us a little closer to the transition from pandemic to endemic,” said Magas. “It allows us to reconsider things like social distancing and masking and things like that if security permits.” The Biden administration plans to send a letter to U.S. elementary schools next week asking them to host clinics. The education department is also urging schools to host town halls and webinars where parents can talk to doctors about the vaccine.

Districts that have organized or are planning clinics for young children stretch from Alaska to Vermont, said Hayley Meadvin, senior advisor to the Department of Education. When schools choose not to host clinics, families can turn to doctor’s offices, hospitals and other sites.

“There are many access points, and there is no wrong door, honestly,” Meadvin said.

In Ohio, some school districts were offering on-site clinics for older students, but Rick Lewis, director of the Ohio School Boards Association, said they hadn’t heard from any districts planning them for younger students. He noted that the CDC encourages districts to consider factors such as local needs for school clinics and adequate community support. Vaccination campaigns in schools have been set back and protested in Ohio and elsewhere, and some opponents say they plan to keep up the pressure as vaccination effort focuses on students younger. Sarah Kenney, who represents the Mainers for Health and Parental Rights group, argues that schools should not get involved or even talk to young children about the vaccine. She is worried about its novelty and the potential for long-term side effects. A Pfizer study of 2,268 children found the vaccine to be nearly 91% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections. The FDA examined 3,100 vaccinated children and concluded that the injections were safe. Kenney also expressed concern about the stigma of children who do not get the vaccine. “These conversations and personal decisions have been quite difficult for adults to handle, we shouldn’t leave that on our children,” she said.

Parents are required to authorize the shooting of their children. Vaccines are usually given before or after school in partnership with local hospitals and government health authorities. Public schools in Chicago, the third largest district in the country, canceled the school on Nov. 12 to give parents the option to have their children immunized by a health care provider or at a school site. In Portland, Oregon, vaccines will be offered in eight elementary schools starting next week in very poor neighborhoods, where families are more likely to face barriers such as accessing health care or transportation, said Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero.

In the wake of California’s move to make vaccines mandatory for children, Portland is among the districts that are considering the same. A recent education council meeting to discuss this possibility was interrupted by a group of protesters.

Because of this, security will be present at the immunization clinics, and their times and dates will not be made public outside of the local community, said Courtney Westling, district government relations director.

“Schools are a trusted community hub,” she said. “Families, in general, feel very safe at these school sites. We also do not ask for identity cards or insurance. We don’t want people to worry about the ECI showing up or something like that. can get some of that behind us and get back to some semblance of normalcy. ”In Hartford, Connecticut, schools superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said the immunization clinics she is planning with local hospitals will include school nurses, trusted by families. Only a third of students aged 12 and over in the district are immunized. “We take an equity stance here and think about accessing and removing barriers our families could have, ”she said.

In nearby Tolland, Connecticut, school principal Walter Willett said his district is also teaming up with health providers, including UConn Health, to offer vaccines at school sites to younger students. He said vaccines are important, not just for keeping children in school, but for teachers, janitors and other staff who tend to be at greater risk.

“They can do their jobs more efficiently when kids aren’t jumping in and out of the quarantined classroom,” he said.

Liz Hamel, vice president of opinion research and surveys at KFF, a nonprofit that studies health issues, said their recent surveys show parents are more likely to accept the information on their pediatrician’s vaccines than from government or educational sources.

“And one thing we found with the teens was that most parents didn’t want their school to require the vaccine, but if their school provided information or encouraged students to get the vaccine, those parents were more likely to say their child was receiving the vaccine, “she said. Sam Valle, a 9-year-old from Old Saybrook, Connecticut, said he has been bugging his parents for months, asking them when he could get the shot. “Right now I can’t walk into a restaurant without it,” he said. “I can’t walk into a store without wearing a mask. I can’t do a lot of things.” Sam’s quest will soon be over. Her mother says her shooting is now scheduled for Wednesday.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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