The FDA’s decision was made on Monday: it will authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in children between 12 and 15 years of age. Two days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed suit, recommending that teenagers—the youngest people—be vaccinated against COVID-19.
By Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after the CDC’s approval, Hill’s nurse. The Lebanese school district is vaccinating middle school students, watching them wriggle expectantly, calming them down when the needles cringe, and then celebrate this important moment with them.
At the end of the day—in five hours to be precise—approximately 10 nurses had helped the students get nearly 1,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine, an average of about four children per minute. After several months of practice, they vaccinated adults in the community (including school staff), thereby improving the process and solving every small problem. This is why they turned the vaccine clinic so quickly after the CDC announcement. (Well, this and their newly discovered ability to transition from face-to-face learning to distance learning.)
“The children are ecstatic,” said Deanna Hess, chair of the Pittsburgh area school district health service. “They are happy to be back to that normal state-whatever normality may be to them.”
Throughout the pandemic, school nurses played an indispensable role. In many areas, they have stepped up in the past 14 months to provide COVID-19 testing, conduct contact tracing, develop isolation protocols, and act as liaisons between school districts and public health authorities.
Now, as the United States drifts away in this crisis, their responsibilities have expanded. Many school nurses are vaccinating children as young as 12 years old and are acting as trusted confidants and guides to help families who are not yet convinced that vaccination is the right choice for their children.
Kate King, director of health, family and community services at the school in Columbus, Ohio, said: “In order for students and parents to return to school with peace of mind, vaccination is the key.” “The more people who get vaccinated, the safer it will be for everyone to return to school. . We need the children to go back to school.”
Excitement and hesitation
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 600,000 children between the ages of 12 and 15 were vaccinated in the United States in the first six days after eligibility was expanded. A total of 3.5 million children under the age of 18 have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Last weekend, at a drive-through vaccination site in El Paso, Texas, hundreds of children and their parents showed up there for vaccinations. Rebecca Madrid, the nurse manager of the nearby Socorro Independent School District, described the scene as pure excitement.
“You will see it in your parents-just a sigh of relief,” Madrid said. “You will hear’thank you.’ Once they are vaccinated, you can see the smiles on their faces.”
Rebecca Doughty, director of health services at Spokane Public Schools in Washington, said that in the past few days, students and parents have come to their clinic with excitement.
“The children want to return to their normal lives,” she said. “They are nervous about the vaccine itself-they are still children after all-but they are excited about the vaccine. They know this is how they can have fun this summer.”
But now that the most eager families have the opportunity to get vaccinated and get their eligible children vaccinated, the difficult part begins.
Although many families of school-age children desperately want to be vaccinated, other families have no interest at all. Others are on the sidelines, unsure how to weigh the risks and benefits, or how to deal with all the conflicting information they hear about vaccines.
Dowty said that she personally met more parents who “never get vaccinated” than those who are hesitant to get a vaccine.
“There is a lot of paranoia,” she explained, mainly due to misinformation circulating online.
“I hope all our students are welcome in our school district, but I also hope that they are all vaccinated, which makes me a little bit restricted. It’s a bit like walking a tightrope,” Doughty said.
School nurses—especially those who have worked in the same community for many years or even decades—have the advantage of being a trusted healthcare provider for many families, Laurie Combe said. National Association of School Nurses.
What school nurses can do — and what they have been doing across the country for thousands of years — is to spend time talking with parents and really listening to them. Why do they hesitate? What is holding them back? Is there research to eliminate their fears?
“The school nurse didn’t say,’You should do this because this is what the data says,'” Combe explained. “What the school nurse is doing is saying,’I really understand this is your concern. This is what the evidence says is related to this concern. So it is meeting with parents to try to provide them with what they can consider Answers and evidence.”
Lisa Kern, a school nurse at Pasco County Schools in Florida, said a key obstacle is getting parents to receive the vaccine themselves. She said that if they are uncomfortable getting it, they are unlikely to want to give it to their children.
“When it comes to vaccine hesitation, it’s all about education,” Kern said. “There is a lot of misinformation there, so any opportunity we must correct the narrative, we must seize these opportunities.”
Listen to your parents’ worries, understand their fears, and admit their hesitations. “This is definitely the school nurse’s cab,” Kern said. “It takes time to do this. This is not a quick conversation between you and people. You have to answer their questions. You can’t judge.”
Kern added that everyone needs a reason to be vaccinated. The reasons for each family may be different. Maybe someone’s grandmother is about to celebrate her 90th birthday. Or another family wants to go on vacation. Or they want their children to participate in team sports again. It is important to help families determine the reason for their vaccination so they can see the benefits of vaccination.
Play at the end of the school year
Another reason the region likes mountains. Lebanon and Spokane are busy setting up vaccination clinics for children between 12 and 15 years of age? The school year is over soon.
Since the only vaccine currently available for teenagers is Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine, school nurses know they are racing against the clock to get as many children as possible with two doses before school is over.
Take the mountain. After the CDC’s announcement, a clinic was opened in Lebanon and nearly 1,000 students were vaccinated. These students were vaccinated on May 13. Three weeks later, on June 3rd, they will receive a second dose of the vaccine. The next day is their last day of school.
For other regions, the timing will not be so accidental. In Columbus, Ohio, staff are still vaccinating students between the ages of 16 and 18 and will start paying attention to young students this summer. They will vaccinate children between 12 and 15 years old through the summer school program starting in mid-June and summer food spots where students come to receive nutritious snacks.
The Kern District near Tampa, Florida will end classes next week. She said that before then there was “absolutely no time” to start vaccinating young people. In addition, in Florida, parents must be present to vaccinate children with COVID-19 because the vaccine has not yet been fully approved by the FDA. Instead, the Kern district will host weekend and summer vaccination clinics.
The ultimate goal is to vaccinate as many children as possible by the end of summer. In this way, when the school reopens in the fall, the need for contact tracing and isolation will be limited, and with luck, the interference caused by COVID-19 will be minimal.