NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's a joint effort to vaccinate 12-17 year olds in Niagara County. The Department of Health has partnered with school districts to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics in schools.
"We have weekly meetings with the superintendents. I talk with the superintendents almost every day now," Niagara County Public Health Director Dan Stapleton said.
"We're a good partner with the Niagara County Health Department. They have been at our side throughout this entire pandemic whether it's been for testing, for phone calls, contact tracing. Now, we're at a different level doing vaccinations. We want to put the clinics where people are," Mark Laurrie, superintendent of the Niagara Falls Central School District, said.
Stapleton said hosting clinics in schools makes it easier for those under 18 to get their COVID-19 vaccine dose.
"The parent will meet them there. They're allowed to come out of class walk down the hall and get vaccinated. If a child over 12 comes and they don't have their parent with them, we can call the parent and get permission over the phone," Stapleton said.
According to state data,just one week ago less than 10% of 12-17 year olds were vaccinated. Now, just 7 days later, more than 26% of this age group has rolled up their sleeves.
"At least 70% of our Pfizer first doses are individuals that are 12 to 17 years old," Elise Pignatora, Niagara County's Director of Public Health Planning and Emergency Preparedness, said.
Laurrie said it's especially crucial to get 12-17 year olds vaccinated for the return to the classroom in the fall.
"I don't think it will be a mandated thing, however it certainly helps us transition back. Our intention is to come back full five days a week, all students in school from K-12," Laurrie said.
Stapleton said it can also lead to a normal summer.
"If people want to go to concerts, want to go to sporting events, they want to go together with their families and now they can do that as long as they get vaccinated," Stapleton said.
Pignatora said it's easier than ever to get a dose.
"We try to empower people to understand there's promotions such as free child care, free uber or lyft rides, and more incentives to get people vaccinated," Pignatora said.
7 Eyewitness News has compiled a list of all the places offering Pfizer to teens in Western New York.
You can also text 438829 your zip code to track down all of the vaccination clinics nearby.