BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Bristol, Virginia Public Schools elementary students had a chance to get vaccinated for COVID-19 Wednesday.
With the recent authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, school leaders wanted to give families a chance to get their kids in this age category the shot in a place where they feel safe.
In the past month COVID-19 case numbers at Bristol, Virginia Public Schools have seen a significant decline. School leaders attribute that in part to vaccine uptake by teachers and students so far.
The school system reports more than half of their staff members have received a vaccine booster. Now that the vaccine is available for almost every student in the district, school leaders say they might soon end their indoor mask requirement if cases continue to stay low.
The Population Health Manager for the Mount Rogers Health District in Southwest Virginia says she was pleased with Wednesday’s turnout at the Van Pelt vaccination clinic.
“To see this kind of uptake, we are really pleased with it,” said Breanne Forbes Hubbard.
She reports they had appointments to vaccinate around 80 children ages 5 to 11.
“Its a setting that parents and families are comfortable with and familiar with and expect us to come do vaccines. Schools are just a comfortable place for kids,” said Forbes Hubbard.
While the risk of severe disease and death in children is lower than in adults – it still exists – and COVID has had a profound impact on children’s mental health and education.
“It’s very important. Vaccination is about the community, not just the individual. Getting these kids vaccinated protects those adults in their lives,” said Forbes Hubbard.
Bristol, Virginia school leaders held a town hall earlier this week to address concerns from parents about the vaccine.
Leaders within the school system say they support parents who do – and do not – choose to vaccinate their children.
For some Bristol families, the choice was an easy one when it came to their children.
“When the FDA approved vaccination for him we wanted to get him vaccinated as well so we can get past this pandemic, keep the kids in school and get back to more of a normal life,” said Allen Jessee, who brought his 11-year-old to get the vaccine.
The school system plans to hold a second town hall meeting and clinic when it’s time for these students to get their second dose of the vaccine.