Equity, encouragement drive 2 districts’ vaccine plans

'I highly encourage students and parents to consider signing up to receive their first dose,' superintendent says
By: | April 22, 2021

Any student or staff member eligible for the COVID vaccine is being encouraged to get the shot by administrators in one North Carolina school district.

Wautauga County Schools, in the western part of the state, vaccinated 100 students and parents at a clinic the district held this week, says Garrett Price, the director of communications and community relations.

“As doses open up to the general public and younger people, we hope as many people as possible will get their vaccine,” Price says.

More than 90% of Wautauga County’s teachers and staff are now fully vaccinated, he says.

More from DA: How 3 districts are vaccinating eligible high school students

The district intends to hold another vaccination clinic for eligible teens before the end of the year, during school hours when more students are in school buildings. Administrators also hope to innoculate younger students when they become eligible for vaccines.

If vaccinations are approved for younger students, the district intends to organize clinics for those groups as well.

“Vaccines are safe and effective and are by far the best way to protect yourself from contracting and transmitting the virus,” Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott said on the district’s website. “Now that a vaccine is available for high-school-aged students, I highly encourage students and parents to consider signing up to receive their first dose.”

Expanding vaccine access

In Kansas, students in the Shawnee Mission School District told administrators that a clinic in their schools may have been their only chance to get the vaccine.

“From an equity standpoint, one thing our high school students shared with is, if we wouldn’t have had clinics during the school day, they were concerned they wouldn’t be able to get to the vaccine because parents couldn’t take off work or transportation was a challenge for their families,” says Christy Ziegler, the chief of student services.

The Kansas City-area district held clinics at high schools this week, providing vaccines to any student 16 and older who had a parent’s consent.

Initially, about 800 individuals expressed interest in the clinic, and the district expects to vaccinate about 500 people by April 23. Many students are also getting vaccination by community providers, Ziegler says.

As far as hesitancy, administrators are telling students the vaccines are another important layer, along with masks and hand hygiene, in preventing the spread of COVID.

“Making sure there’s no barrier to access to the vaccine is important to us,” Ziegler says.