Schools start COVID vaccines for kids 12 and up

Tammy Drerup, Centerville schools director of student services, receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Centerville High School, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.
Tammy Drerup, Centerville schools director of student services, receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Centerville High School, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

About 700 students and some parents will get shots at Kettering schools on Wednesday

Dayton-area schools have begun offering COVID vaccinations to students as young as 12 this week, with Kettering schools hosting a vaccination clinic Wednesday.

Betina Irwin, school nurse coordinator for Kettering City Schools, said about 700 people are scheduled to receive vaccine shots at school Wednesday as the district partners with Rite Aid. It will be a mix of 12-15 year-olds receiving their first shots, 16-and-older students getting their second shots, and some students’ family members getting vaccinated too.

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With the school year about to end, Irwin said Kettering figured they could make it simpler for families to get vaccinated, rather than having them try to navigate vaccine options and locations over the summer.

“We don’t have any motivation except altruistically trying to make it convenient for our students and families who want to participate.” she said. “We saw another school doing this and thought it was an awesome idea, that we can provide that service for our community here. So we jumped on it.”

Shannon Cox, superintendent of the Montgomery County Educational Service Center, said her organization, partnering with Dayton Children’s Hospital, is currently working with 11 other public, private and charter schools on rolling out vaccine administration to students age 12-15.

She said the Miami Valley School and the Trotwood school district are among those offering vaccination to those age 12-15 students in the next few days.

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Some of the ESC’s own special needs students are participating in the vaccination efforts, and Cox said opening eligibility to those students’ families was a big help.

“We had family members who said that because of the medical fragility of their child, they weren’t able to leave their child at home to get their own shot,” Cox said. “We had parents who were crying with gratitude, saying this never would have happened if they had to go to an open clinic somewhere. It was just a huge barrier removal for families.”

Ohio students age 16 and older have been eligible for the COVID vaccine since late March, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to those 12 and older last week.

Irwin said when Kettering schools announced Wednesday’s vaccine clinic a week ago, almost all of the spots were claimed within six hours, so they expanded it.

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While many vaccinated adults are feeling life heading back to normal, school employees still spend their days around hundreds of students who have been too young to be vaccinated against COVID-19. As we head into summer break, Irwin said getting more kids vaccinated will help even outside of school.

“Consider in the summer, how many younger students are around teenagers,” she said. “Those teens work at the pool, at Kings Island, at summer camps. The younger students who still can’t get vaccinated are around a lot of teens and adults. If we get those (teens and older) people vaccinated, it helps protect people all the way down the age levels.”

Cox said other schools that have upcoming vaccine clinics for students (some still 16-plus, others for kids 12-15) include Dayton, Huber Heights, Mad River, Oakwood, Valley View, Northridge, Brookville, DECA, Gem City High School and the Dayton Regional STEM School.

Irwin said while schools regularly require many vaccines, she doesn’t see the COVID vaccine becoming a requirement anytime in the near future, especially since it’s still only available through an “emergency use authorization.”

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“It might never be required,” Irwin said. “Right now we just continue to encourage people, provide opportunities as we can, and hope that everybody who wants to can take advantage.”

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