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Coronavirus

Columbus City Schools Begins Effort To Vaccinate Young Students From COVID-19

Parker McKenzie, 10, right, receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from nurse practitioner Amy Wahl with distraction help from certified child life specialist Haylee Rogers during the first COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Franklin County for children age 5-11 at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.
Paul Vernon
/
AP
Parker McKenzie, 10, right, receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from nurse practitioner Amy Wahl with distraction help from certified child life specialist Haylee Rogers during the first COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Franklin County for children age 5-11 at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

Columbus City Schools on Monday started the ambitious effort to eventually vaccinate thousands of students between the age of 5 and 11-years old against COVID-19. The plan revolves around in-school clinics, although some parents opted to move more quickly.

"So this is really been an effort and collaboration between Columbus City Schools, Nationwide Children's and Columbus public health,” said Dr. Sara Bode, the medical consultant for Columbus City Schools and the medical director for school health services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Bode said they plan to visit 80 schools this week, and any parents who signed up their children to receive the vaccine will get their first dose.

"We've been adding numbers every day. So actually, right now, we have over 2,000 students that are going to get the vaccine this week, Monday through Friday, at the district, which is a really great number for us,” Bode said. “So that's more than 10% of the students that are eligible for it. So we're really excited about that. This is really important because this age group also needs to get vaccinated in order to protect the community"

Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts agrees. She said with a recent spike in cases in the area and as students prepare to go on break to celebrate the holidays with their families, it is essential that they get vaccinated.

"Only 58% of the Franklin County population has been vaccinated, 40% or more has not been vaccinated. And we have a mask order, but it's only in place for the City of Columbus. So we're in a in a really precarious situation. Right now, our hospitals are struggling to keep up with the demand," Roberts said.

The vaccination effort is even more important that the new omicron variant has been found in Ohio, Bode said.

"And now we have this new omicron variant, which also looks like it has some increased transmissibility, meaning it's easy to pass. And so combining those two things plus winter, we are really concerned that we're going to have a big surge over those winter months, and especially after the holidays when everyone's been together. So the opportunity to get vaccinated now is really important for our community," she said.

Monica Wangler didn't wait for her 11-year old daughter's school to offer the shot. She had her vaccinated over a week ago.

"I think it's a really valuable opportunity…in order to keep them in school more of the time. And that's ultimately our goal, to keep them in the school environment. The vaccines are demonstrated to be helping to support that. And then as a parent, to me, it's peace of mind," Wangler said.

And she can be a little more at peace as her family spends time with her parents during the holidays.