In the weeks since the federal government approved COVID-19 vaccinations for young children, pop-up clinics across the district have met families’ demands for what has been described as an extra layer of protection.
In particular, clinics on public and public charter school campuses have proven particularly convenient for parents like Cynthia Whitlow, who said she has long anticipated the possibility of protecting her two children in infancy from COVID-19.
“It’s good to have the clinics available to our community with the information out there [to have] people are looking at the bigger picture of getting their children vaccinated. I look forward to another layer of protection and a little peace of mind, ”said Whitlow, a mother of three who attends Center City Public Charter School – Trinidad Campus in the Northeast.
Amid conversations about vaccine mandates for school-age children, Whitlow has become a vocal supporter of such measures. She explained that she not only fought against the fear of her unvaccinated children going to school, but also the urge to follow them violently against the COVID-19 shot.
“I admit I was initially against getting vaccinated, but when more people around me got caught and died of the virus, we decided to get it,” Whitlow said.
Data from DC Health show that per. By November 15, 42,144 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 had taken at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Information on young people between the ages of five and 11 remains inaccessible.
Earlier this month, Center City PCS – Trinidad Campus spoke among several District Charter schools to begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations on campus to students and other children between the ages of five and 11.
Meanwhile, DC Public Schools hosted clinics at 30 schools throughout the district, including Bancroft Elementary in the Northwest. These clinics, organized in partnership with DC Health, often serve community members during after-school care, often with less than 300 doses available at a time. Children must either be accompanied by a parent or bring a signed consent form.
District schools used a similar scheme at the beginning of the school year to vaccinate children 12 years of age and older. Families also had the opportunity to visit local clinics and pharmacies to obtain doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Young participants often received incentives, including gift cards and Apple AirPods.
Since August, DC Health has registered 1,679 COVID cases at the district’s public, charter and private schools. Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School in the Southeast, DC International Public Charter School in the Northwest and Center City Public Charter School report the highest recorded cases. Among the district’s public schools, Ballou STAY and Hart Middle School, both located in the southeast, have registered the most cases of COVID-19 since the school year began.
At Ingenuity Prep, school management has highlighted vaccination as the ideal means of keeping children in school, noting that vaccinated young people do not need to be quarantined during an outbreak. Since the beginning of the school year, positive COVID-19 tests and quarantine periods have repeatedly disrupted students’ learning.
That’s why, as soon as it closed clinics for students 12 years and older, Ingenuity Prep became one of the first schools to distribute vaccinations to children between the ages of five and 11, in partnership with DC Health and the Statesmen Academy for Boys.
Ingenuity Prep founder / CEO Will Stoetzer said the school’s pop-up clinics have been well attended and of great benefit to parents, especially those who have been skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The families were uncomfortable so we educated and helped them. We have a doctor who runs an information webinar with families and shares a lot of information. This vaccination clinic is an extension of the work we have tried to do to ensure that our families have the information they need, ”said Stoetzer.