Norfolk elementary schools hold vaccination clinics to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Public Schools wants to make it easier for students to get a COVID-19 shot in their arm with in-school vaccination clinics during school hours.

Fourth-grader Thomas and some of his fellow classmates at Ghent School rolled up their sleeves Tuesday to get their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

He was a little nervous right before he got his shot, but said he felt good after getting it.

“If I get COVID, it’s just going to be a little bit, I’m just going to be sick. And not like fully, not like COVID sick,” he said.

His mother, Stephanie Smith, says she and her husband, who are both fully vaccinated, tried to minimize his exposure over the last year. She says today is a step toward a return to normalcy for him.

“He wants to be a normal kid again. No masks. I can run and play in close quarters with my friends. I can do things like that,” she said. “You put it in those terms, and he, they understand.”

All Norfolk elementary schools will hold vaccination clinics during school hours. Senior Director for Student Wellness Dr. Dennis Moore says this is meant to make the shot as accessible as possible for students.

“We wanted to make it as easy as possible for the families,” he said. “Maybe they don’t have transportation or something like that.”

Chief Operations Officer Paul Brumund from the Norfolk Health Department says it’s part of a community approach to prevent COVID-19 from getting into the classroom.

“It is very community-based,” he said. “We got the parents involved, the school’s involved, public health, local pharmacies. Bringing all those resources together really is going to have a big impact on the health of the community.”

Children ages 5 to 11 haven’t been eligible to get the shot until recently, when the FDA approved a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine for children.

“Every vaccine counts,” said Moore. “If we get more kids that’s safer for the individual child, safer for the families, safer for their schools. It also allows them to stay in school.”

Stephanie says she had a conversation with her son before getting him vaccinated to make sure he understood that getting the shot isn’t just about protecting himself.

“It’s his classmates. It’s his teachers. It’s everyone around him. And it’s not just to remember it’s all about us, it’s to remember we’re helping a community at the same time,” she said.

Norfolk Public Schools are holding all of these vaccine clinics in every single elementary school in the district and they’ll be back in three weeks to administer second doses to students.

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