NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency and local high schools are working together to get students vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Monday, FEMA set up temporary clinics in three Norfolk High Schools, Norfolk Technical Center, Granby High, and Norview High, to help reach those 16 and older who want to get vaccinated.
Tim Smith, who is the deputy director for the FEMA Military Circle site, says they’ve had a number of 16 and 17 year olds come through their clinic and realized they were missing out on an opportunity.
Now, they’re working with Norfolk Public Schools and Virginia Beach Public Schools to vaccinate students.
“It’s important for the younger generation to get their vaccinations. We need to get to 70% to get that herd immunity everyone talks about,” he said. “Half of the population is under 18 years old, so unless we get under 18 vaccinated, we’re never going to get that herd immunity.”
The site at Military Circle has been open for seven weeks. Smith says the turnout has been great.
“It’s been a fantastic experience. When we opened our doors, we didn’t know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised by the number that were coming in,” he said.
Smith says last week, they passed 50,000 vaccinations and will hit 70,000 this week.
FEMA crews will be in three Norfolk high schools on Tuesday: Maury, Lake Taylor, and Booker T. Washington.
In this statement obtained by 10 On Your Side, Norfolk Public School officials say they were proud to work with FEMA to help give families the options to keep them safe against COVID:
“Providing healthy, safe learning and teaching environments remains our goal as we continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Now that we have welcomed all three of our phased student groups back to in-person learning and look ahead to finalizing plans for summer programs and in-person learning for the next school year, it is important that families have a variety of options to help safeguard themselves against this virus. We are proud to collaborate with FEMA and our partners at the public health department on these efforts of providing students 16 years of age and older an opportunity to receive the Pfizer vaccine at school-based sites as well as at the city’s vaccination clinic to ensure that health conditions continue to improve in the City of Norfolk and beyond.”
FEMA says it will also be in 11 Virginia Beach high schools next week.
Virtual and in-person Virginia Beach students are all welcome to get their vaccinations but parents must sign a consent form and return it to their home schools.
Smith says that some families are concerned about the side effects their children might receive from their vaccine but he says they are the same side effects adults have experienced.
Once the Pzifer vaccine has been approved for 12 to 15-year-olds, Smith says the clinic will be able to vaccinate them but just like 16 and 17-year-olds, they will also need parental consent.
“Even when they make that very adult decision to get vaccinated, we need their parent’s permission to do that,” he said.
Shots could begin as soon as a federal vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations for using the two-dose vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds. That announcement is expected Wednesday.
After the FDA’s approval Monday, Virginia vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said the state has already begun planning for expanding vaccines to younger people, including talking with local health districts, school systems, pediatricians and other physicians, and our pharmacy partners.
“While this is an exciting first step toward offering this vaccine and its protection to more than 400,000 Virginians, we must await additional federal approval before doing so,” Avula said.
The Virginia Beach City Public Schools vaccine schedule is listed below:
Vaccine Schedule – First Shot
|Bayside and Kempsville||Tuesday, May 18|
|Green Run, Green Run Collegiate and Kellam||Wednesday, May 19|
|Salem and Cox||Thursday, May 20|
|Tallwood and Princess Anne||Friday, May 21|
|Ocean Lakes and Landstown||Tuesday, May 25|
|First Colonial||Wednesday, May 26|
Vaccine Schedule – Second Shot
|Bayside and Kempsville||Tuesday, June 8|
|Green Run, Green Run Collegiate and Kellam||Wednesday, June 9|
|Salem and Cox||Thursday, June 10|
|Tallwood and Princess Anne||Friday, June 11|
|Ocean Lakes and Landstown||Tuesday, June 15|
|First Colonial||Wednesday, June 16|