NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — As Niagara County shifts away from mass vaccination sites, health leaders are turning their attention to the younger population by holding nearly all of the Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine clinics in schools.
"We hope that people feel more comfortable coming to the school. It's a place where their children feel more comfortable. Once we start vaccinating children 12 and up, the ability for them to come to a place that they trust and love is really what we're trying to achieve here," Dan Stapleton, the public health director for Niagara County, said.
Monday, the FDA approved the use of Pfizer in children 12 to 15-years-old. The Niagara County Health Department has been preparing for that very decision by ordering Pfizer for in-school clinics. Once the CDC and Governor Cuomo give the go, Niagara County will begin vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds.
"f your student wants to walk down and get vaccinated in their school, it doesn't get easier than that," Stapleton said.
Dr. Hank Stopinski, the superintendent of Royalton Hartland Central Schools, said the majority of students want those clinics there.
"The students want to be safe. They want to be able to compete on the athletic fields and play in the bands and be in their classrooms, closer to what normal used to be," Dr. Stopinski said.
"If everyone is vaccinated and we get to that herd immunity, then the chance of transmission in the schools will be greatly diminished and the kids can have their normal lives they need to have," Laurie Schoenfeld, the director of nursing services for Niagara County, said.
Stapleton said the health department's goal is to make getting the vaccine as easy as possible for families.
"With the proper approval for their parent, having them walk right out of class. It will take them from start to finish about 16 to 17 minutes. That's it. It's a very short part of the day. People can walk right down. There's no need for registration. We hope people preregister, but it's not required. We want to make it as easy as possible," Stapleton said.
Parents don't have to be present.
"If the parent can come, that's the best of all. If the parents can't, then we can actually talk to them on the phone and get consent from the parent for their child to be vaccinated in school," Stapleton said.
Niagara County will be hosting vaccine clinics at Wilson High School on May 20th, Newfane Middle School on May 27th and Harry F. Abate Elementary School on June 9th. Click here for more details on those clinics and for future clinic announcements.