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‘It was an easy decision’: Large turnout in Henrico for student COVID-19 vaccines

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 4:45 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 4:54 PM EDT
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Vaccination rates in Virginia among children ages 12 and up are still slow going, but on Wednesday, one area of metro-Richmond saw a surprising turnout at a walk-up clinic.

Since June 30, Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) have held three vaccination clinics at three of its middle schools for childhood immunizations and COVID-19 vaccines.

On Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., two more clinics were held at Brookland Middle School and Tuckahoe Middle School; the latter drawing a line out the door of teens waiting to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

“Since January, I’ve done over 1,000 shots,” a VDH staff member told a student.

It is a process many of these staffers can probably do in their sleep. However, now there is a renewed focus on vaccinating children between 12 to 17 years old against COVID-19.

“It was really quick and just so simple,” said Elina Shah. “I didn’t even realize it had happened.”

Shah, 12, was one of the last students to get a vaccine before they ran out at the walk-up clinic at Tuckahoe Middle.

“These events at the schools, we’re targeting 7th and 12th graders for back to school readiness,” said LaWana Dunn, Public Health Nurse Supervisor for the Richmond & Henrico Health District. “However, we have seen a large portion of people coming not only for those childhood vaccinations but also COVID vaccinations.”

“It was an easy decision,” Shah said.

That is because Shah lost several family members and family friends to the coronavirus last year.

However, vaccinations among children ages 12 to 17 years old remain lower than what health leaders would like. Per VDH, as of Wednesday, only 48.7% of that age group across the state has received one dose of a vaccine.

JURISDICTIONVACCINATIONS AMONG CHILDREN
AGES 12-17 YEARS-OLD (At least one dose)
PERCENTAGE
(At least one dose)
VIRGINIA (STATEWIDE)307,87948.7%
CHESTERFIELD13,80646.5%
HANOVER4,23947.8%
HENRICO13,66252.6%
RICHMOND (CITY)4,02836.1%
*Numbers reported as of July 21, 2021

“We know getting vaccinated doesn’t necessarily prevent the disease, but it prevents being hospitalized and more severe effects,” Dunn said.

“The risk isn’t as high, but still, we want them to have some sort of security on them; to feel safer when they go out and play with their friends or have more of a social interaction with people again,” said Claudia Campa, a parent.

With school starting up in less than two months, health leaders hope the number of vaccinations among this age group will increase.

“I think it’s settling with a lot of parents and families, that whatever we can do lighten the load and burden of our family if we do get infected with COVID, is really registering,” Dunn said.

In the previous three clinics, a total of roughly 100 COVID-19 vaccines were administered. At Wednesday’s Tuckahoe Middle School clinic alone, that number was around 70.

Meanwhile, other childhood vaccines were administered at the site including tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, HPV and meningococcal.

“TDaP and meningococcal virus vaccines are required for students entering seventh grade,” HCPS said in a release. “Meningococcal virus vaccine is required for students entering 12th grade. HPV and COVID vaccines are offered as a convenience, but are not required for school.”

Another clinic is scheduled for Wed., July 28 at Elko Middle School from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. Students can get as many as four vaccines at one time, no appointment is necessary and there is no cost.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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