Local school district and health department adapt to Pfizer approval for children ages 5-11


The Athens City School District, or ACSD, is working to assess COVID-19 policies after the recent approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 on October 29.

ACSD Superintendent Thomas Gibbs said schools do not require students to report their immunization status, and he does not expect policy to change in the next semester. However, students may be asked about their immunization status in the event of exposure and contact tracing.

Cases among young children have remained relatively low in Ohio, which the Athens City and County Department of Health, or ACCHD, Administrator Jack Pepper described as also anecdotally applicable in the Athens region.

“What we’re seeing in very young children is that they, of all our age groups, seem to cope better… that’s our experience here. But we just don’t see tons and tons of little kids getting particularly sick, ”Pepper said.

All ACSD students are currently required to wear masks, regardless of their immunization status, to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. Gibbs said the district is working closely with the health department to determine COVID-19 policies going forward and will likely continue to require masks, despite increased vaccinations.

“Their concern is that as activities increasingly take place indoors and the flu season sort of starts in earnest now, the masks have done a great job of preventing the spread of disease,” especially in the school environment, ”Gibbs said. “They therefore encourage us to continue our mask policies for the foreseeable future. ”

Cases within schools have mimicked the trend among students, with minor outbreaks representing a small proportion of the school population. Morrison-Gordon Elementary School has experienced 17 cases of COVID-19 among approximately 400 students in total.

ACCHD and ACSD have teamed up to make it possible for as many young children as possible to get vaccinated after authorization, including two mass vaccination clinics targeting children aged 5 to 11 and various community clinics. school. Pepper reported that nearly 650 children were reached through the clinics, in addition to those who made individual appointments through the health department.

“Of course, we would love to see everyone in that age group get vaccinated, but we also recognize that this is probably not realistic,” Pepper said.

Pepper estimates that around 30% to 35% of children in Athens in the recently licensed age range are vaccinated. ACCHD plans to continue offering vaccination clinics and appointments to meet local demand.

Gibbs said parents have mixed attitudes about immunization, which has been seen in districts across the country. However, he believes that a significant number of families have expressed an interest in having their children immunized thanks to the opportunities offered.

Pepper also acknowledged the parents’ concerns, but said that so far there have been no adverse reactions in children in the area and pointed to the considerable amount of vaccine research and testing before approval. for use in the market.

“Vaccinating young children against COVID-19 will bring us closer to a return to a sense of normalcy,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement. Release on the authorization of the vaccine. “Our comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the vaccine safety and efficacy data should help assure parents and guardians that this vaccine meets our high standards.”

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