By Eric Gorton, Contributor
Nearly 100 middle school students aged 5 to 11 received COVID vaccines Thursday at Thomas Harrison and Skyline middle schools in Harrisonburg, the first day the shots were offered in city schools for young children.
An additional 29 students 12 and older also got shots at the two schools.
The shots will be given at elementary schools starting Monday, when Keister and Waterman elementaries will hold clinics. A clinic is scheduled for Spotswood Elementary on Nov. 18; clinics are scheduled at Smithland Elementary and Stone Spring Elementary on Monday, Nov. 22.
Jordan Shelton, a communications specialist with the Central Shenandoah Health District, said the department was pleased with the demand for shots.
“Parents are taking advantage of the opportunity to get their children vaccinated at city schools. It’s the only way to get back to the way things were before the pandemic,” she said.
She also said the timing is good for families who want to be able to gather with others during the holiday season without having to social distance.
Shelton said 46 students aged 5-11 received shots at Thomas Harrison and 49 students aged 5-11 received them at Skyline.
The children are being given the Pfizer shot and will need a second shot in three weeks, Shelton said. The health department will be making arrangements with the schools for the second round. The Centers for Disease Control authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 5 years old early this month.
Shelton said there’s a chance the schools will not have enough shots for everyone who wants one, but other options exist.
One of those is CVS pharmacy on South High Street. Local health department clinics, community vaccination clinics and family doctors also are providing shots.
Dr. Jamie Hutton of Mountain Ridge Pediatrics said her office received enough vaccine to give 100 shots and that children have been registered for all of them. She said she is waiting on word about when she can get more.
Shelton said more will be coming, but timing will depend on the distributor.
A VDH information sheet about the vaccines at schools states that children must get vaccinated at the school they attend. Registration is required and a link is provided by the schools. The schools can also provide paper registration forms.
The information sheet states the dose for children ages 5-11 is one-third of the dosage for older adolescents and adults and that it is safe.
“About 3,100 children were vaccinated during the clinical trials and no serious side effects have been detected. Side effects such as arm soreness and fatigue are similar to those experienced by people aged 12 years and older.”
More information about COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Information about scheduling shots in places other than schools can be found on the Vaccinate Virginia website.
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