ONA, W.Va. — Officials in West Virginia’s third-largest school district are welcoming the opportunity to vaccinate eligible students from COVID-19 beginning Wednesday in high schools.
Cabell County Schools is offering students age 16 and older an opportunity to receive their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during the school day, starting at Cabell Midland High School in Ona on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Jedd Flowers, Director of Communications for Cabell County Schools told MetroNews this is the first opportunity to do this inside the schools and it’s an important benchmark towards ‘normalcy.’ Over 400 students and guardians have been vaccinated at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department clinic in recent weeks.
“This is a big step towards normal for schools once we start getting students vaccinated. 16 is as young as we can go right now. As the ages go lower, we hope to do more,” he said.
Only the Pfizer vaccine is currently begin given to those 16 and 17 years old. Students receiving a dose at Cabell Midland, Huntington High School from 8 to 11 a.m. on Thursday or Cabell County Career Technology Center Thursday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., will have to receive a second dose in three weeks. A date for the second dose will be announced in the future.
Any students younger than 18 need to have release forms signed by a legal parent or guardian and returned to the school before they may receive a vaccination. A printable copy of the form is available on the district’s website, www.cabellschools.com. Students should not have received any other vaccine, within 14 days prior to the school-based vaccination clinic and should not receive any vaccine until 14 days after the second dose has been given, a news release said.
Flowers said the school system would offer vaccines to students into the summer if they were available.
“As they offer it, we are happy to start taking the vaccine and offering it to people. The quicker we get people vaccinated, the more normal our lives become,” he said.
According to Flowers, most of the COVID-19 cases seen in the school district are at the high school level. As of Tuesday, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) reported 15 cases of the virus at Huntington High School and two at Cabell Midland. Cabell County has 1,673 students in the 11th and 12th grades, according to the WVDE.
An estimated 85% of the 1,600 full-time staff members at Cabell County Schools have been vaccinated, according to Flowers. He said that the school system has completed the clinics for staff but anyone remaining who wants a shot can receive it through the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.
The Cabell-Huntington Health Department is among the working partners of Cabell County Schools that include Valley Health Systems, Marshall University School of Pharmacy, Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and the WVDE.
Jim Hoyer, West Virginia Inter-Agency Task Force for Vaccines Director said on Tuesday’s ‘MetroNews Talkline’ that 12 school districts in West Virginia are operating vaccination clinics this week and 14 are scheduled for next week.
Kanawha County Schools vaccinated over 900 students during high school clinics on March 30.
President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that over 80% of teachers, school staff and childcare workers have received one-shot by the end of March, calling it great progress towards ‘protecting our educators, our essential workers.’
Flowers said his school district anticipates a normal fall semester come late August as the vaccination efforts roll on. The state Department of Health and Human Resources confirmed 530,328 first doses of a vaccine have been administered in West Virginia, as of Tuesday. 355,892 West Virginians have been fully vaccinated.