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JCPS hosts second dose vaccine clinic for 5-11 age group

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8-year-old Eleanor Whitehead is ready for spending time with friends and family now that she is fully vaccinated.

Unlike the first round clinics, the fanfare was more muted at Iroquois High School for the second round of COVID-19 vaccination clinics hosted by Jefferson County Public Schools.

Iroquois served as one of 24 school vaccination sites.

The district announced its plans to host two vaccine clinics for children ages 5-11 to receive their first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in early November

At first round clinics, held November 13 and 14, JCPS officials say that around 3,000 students in the newly eligible group got their first dose. 

Hosting these clinics to make vaccines available to as many students as possible is one way JCPS is attempting to address health inequity.

“Not all of our families have the same access,” JCPS manager of district health Dr. Eva Stone said. “And so things like this help make sure that every family, every child has access to the care that they need and that’s so very important to reduce a lot of the disparities that are out there. ”

Stone said that guardians should have received an email from Sphere DX -- a company JCPS works with to administer the vaccine -- reminding them of the upcoming appointment. 

However, she said that those who are unsure should plan to come on the same day they did three weeks ago.

While children 5-11 are the main focus of the clinics, Stone said that students outside that age range, guardians and staff are also welcome to get vaccinated, whether that be first, second or booster dose.

Getting as many students as possible vaccinated is a part of JCPS’ larger plan to protect people against COVID-19, beyond masks and quarantine protocols.

“We’ve got to continue this layered approach,” Stone said. “We’ve got to continue to protect our students, their families, our staff.”

As more students get vaccinated, they are able to start to get back to activities that they haven’t been able to do since the start of the pandemic.

8-year-old Kenwood Elementary student Eleanor Whitehead was allowed to have a birthday party, her first in a while, following her first dose.

Now that she’s fully vaccinated, she’s looking forward to doing even more. 

“The reason why I’m excited to be fully vaccinated is because we can go more places and see our friends and family because last year we couldn’t see our friends and family because it was COVID,” Whitehead said.

Another student, 7-year-old Grace Gardner, a Schaffner Elementary student, was there getting her second dose.

She admitted that she was a bit nervous about it, but her dad promised her Dairy Queen breakfast would be their next stop. That went a long way to calm her nerves.

Gardner had an idea about how to get other students her age to agree to get vaccinated.

“Maybe if they were scared, just have someone say it doesn’t hurt,” Gardner said.

She did admit it hurt a little. 

Gardner’s father, Michael, hopes that Grace can avoid missing more school because she’s vaccinated.

Children who are vaccinated and asymptomatic are not required to quarantine or participate in the test-to-stay program following COVID-19 exposure. 

For Whitehead, the choice to get vaccinated was easy. 

When asked what was scarier, getting a shot or getting COVID-19, she simply answered, “Getting COVID.”

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.