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JCPS kicks off vaccination clinics for 5-11 year-olds at schools across the district

Laryah Walefield, 10, gets her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at one of JCPS' vaccine clinics.
Laryah Walefield, 10, gets her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at one of JCPS' vaccine clinics.

Children walking up to Carter Traditional Elementary School were greeted by people in mascot costumes as they entered the cafeteria. Tables had been pulled forward as staff waited to check them in.

Carter Elementary served as one of 24 school vaccination sites this weekend. Jefferson County Public Schools offered the clinics to students ages 5-11  to get the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccines.

While registration for the JCPS vaccination clinics was full, limited walk-ins were accepted as unused vaccines became available. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine on people in that age range.

The district is working with Sphere DX to administer vaccines. The lab has been involved with previous JCPS vaccine efforts.

Children, their families and JCPS staff are all eligible to receive the vaccine at clinics, although the main focus is the newly-approved age group.

JCPS officials said that 5,000 people were expected to get vaccinated at clinics over both days, with more than  4,000 of those being children 5-11 years old.  They say that getting children vaccinated is the best way to continue with in-person learning.

“Children who are fully vaccinated, so once they get to those two weeks beyond that last dose, if they are exposed to somebody who has COVID and they don’t develop symptoms then they won’t have to quarantine,” said JCPS Manager of District Health Eva Stone.

Stone said that continuing to add layers of protection is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

One of the children vaccinated was nine-year-old Bryce Malone, a student at Kerrick Elementary. Bryce was a bit nervous about his vaccine before getting it, but afterward he was feeling good. 

“There’s a lot of people sick in the world”, Bryce said about his reasoning behind getting the vaccine.

He said he’s excited to be fully vaccinated so he can go skiing in Indiana.

Kameron Hines, 10, is similarly excited about getting to travel for family visits

“I wasn’t trying to get no one sick in my family,” said Kameron. 

Kameron, who attends Carter Traditional, said that while his shot hurt a little, it wasn’t bad enough to stop him from telling others to get the vaccine.

Children were asked to sit and wait 15 minutes before leaving to monitor for possible reactions.  Most side effects reported in children have been similar to that in adults: soreness at the vaccination site, slight fever and fatigue.  Those are things that Dr. John Richard, a physician and medical liaison with Sphere XD, says shouldn’t be hugely concerning for parents. He says that getting children vaccinated is important to not only protect them but others as well.

“I think that the most important aspect of this is recognizing that children are our future and we definitely need to protect them, but we also need to protect our loved ones and our elderly,” Richard said.

JCPS will host another series of clinics on December 4 and 5 to administer the second round of doses.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.