Peninsula School District plans vaccine clinics to include students under 12

Posted on October 29th, 2021 By:

Peninsula School District, partnering with MultiCare Health System, will host COVID-19 vaccination clinics at its middle schools in November and December with the goal of providing access to the vaccine for students ages 12 and older, their families and other community members.

Now, with the FDA’s approval Friday of a low-dose Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11, the district expects to make the shot available to younger students along with those 12 and older at upcoming after-school clinics, according to spokeswoman Aimee Gordon.

A child getting. vaccine in his shoulder

Peninsula School District will host COVID-19 vaccination clinics at its middle schools and expects to offer shots to younger kids later. Photo courtesy of CDC on Unsplash

The pediatric vaccine was endorsed by the FDA under an emergency use authorization. The agency in its news release vouched for its safety and effectiveness.

“The authorization was based on the FDA’s thorough and transparent evaluation of the data that included input from independent advisory committee experts who overwhelmingly voted in favor of making the vaccine available to children in this age group,” the FDA said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must still make recommendations. But Washington health officials are already anticipating expanded eligibility for the vaccine to include younger children, the Associated Press reported. About 316,000 doses of the Pfizer shot for kids are expected to arrive in the state next week.

Gordon said Peninsula Superintendent Krestin Bahr has been in close contact with the Tacoma – Pierce County Health Department. The district is awaiting guidance from health officials and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction as it prepares to move forward on helping make the vaccine available to younger children in its boundaries.

Picture of 3 vaccine vials and their boxes

Caps on the pediatric vaccine are orange to avoid mix-up with adult doses (purple). Photo courtesy of the FDA

Vaccination is not required for students in Peninsula School District. The clinics are offered as a convenience for families who wish to vaccinate their children, Gordon said. Parental consent is required for those 17 and younger to receive the shot. The district also held clinics over the summer at school facilities.

“We encourage all families to consider immunizing their student(s) against COVID-19, not just for their individual health, but the health and safety of our schools and community,” the district wrote in an email to families Sept. 30, notifying them about the upcoming clinics.

All clinics are held from 3:15 to 5:30 p.m.:

Kopachuck Middle School

Clinic Dates:  Nov. 10 (second dose); (first dose was offered Oct. 20)

Address: 10414 56th St NW, Gig Harbor

Harbor Ridge Middle School

Clinic Dates: Nov. 9 (first dose) and Nov. 30 (second dose)

Address: 9010 Prentice Ave, Gig Harbor

Goodman Middle School

Clinic Dates: Nov. 16 (first dose) and Dec. 7 (second dose)

Address: 3701 38th Ave, Gig Harbor

Key Peninsula Middle School

Clinic Dates: Nov. 18 (first dose) and Dec. 9 (second dose)

Address: 5510 Key Peninsula Highway NW, Lakebay

The clinics are staffed and operated by MultiCare. Some school district employees have volunteered their time, but the district’s main role is to make the buildings available and get the word out, Gordon said.

Peninsula School District is also working with a local pharmacist on plans for booster clinics for staff members. All state school employees are required to be fully vaccinated or to have an approved medical or religious exemption, under a mandate from Gov. Jay Inslee that went into effect Oct. 18. Receiving the booster is optional but recommended by the CDC for people who are 65 and older, are 18 + with underlying medical conditions, or 18+ and live or work in “high-risk” settings (including schools).

The district in early October implemented a Test to Stay program allowing unvaccinated students identified as being a close contact of someone with COVID-19 to continue attending classes as long as they receive a negative test and remain symptom free. Test to Stay is optional and parental permission is required.

The Test to Stay program, using guidelines from the Department of Health, requires testing after exposure and again at least five days from exposure. During the seven days of “modified quarantine” students can keep going to classes but not after-school activities or childcare. They can resume normal participation on day eight, compared with having to quarantine at home for at least 10 days.

The district, with a total of 9,685 individuals on its campuses, reports 10 confirmed cases of COVID -19 originating inside school facilities since Sept. 7, the first day of school. There has been a total of 136 cases among students and staff originating outside school facilities.