Portland Public Schools Plan Vaccination Clinics For 5 To 11 Year Olds

Photo: Ford, Brad

As part of its ongoing work to provide students, their families, and the broader community with more health protections against COVID-19, Portland Public Schools (PPS) is announcing that the district will host pediatric vaccination clinics at eight local elementary schools in the coming weeks. The district has already been holding student-centered vaccine clinics at area schools for some time. 

“Schools have long served as trusted community hubs. They are ideal locations to help administer vaccines rapidly and efficiently. We’re proud to partner with Kaiser Permanente and Medical Teams International in providing yet another layer of COVID-19 mitigation to PPS families,” said PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero. “Many of us grew up with our parents recounting their experience of what it was like to receive the polio vaccine at their local school. The relief, the enthusiasm that they felt to finally gain protection against a virus that had deeply impacted their communities...this time is no different.”  

Working in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and Medical Teams International, PPS will offer COVID-19 vaccines to students at eight local district schools: 

  • Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary
  • Cesar Chavez School
  • Faubion School
  • Lent Elementary
  • Rigler Elementary
  • Rosa Parks Elementary
  • Scott Elementary
  • Sitton Elementary

Historically, school vaccine clinics have been more convenient for parents and guardians, as children are already present in the school and do not have to travel to a different location to receive their vaccine. The exact dates of each vaccine clinic are still to be announced. Clinics will be held at identified Title 1 schools in the communities hit hardest by the pandemic. 

Clinics will be held after school dismissal and into the evening, allowing more parents to conveniently vaccinate their children at a time when they may already be picking them up for the day or after work hours. Parents will receive information about the clinics first, then it will be shared with the general public.

The pilot partnership with Kaiser Permanente and Medical Teams International is part of a broader, nationwide effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 — particularly among children where case numbers have risen in recent weeks. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children between 5 and 11 has received emergency use authorization by the FDA, and is expected to be fully authorized by the CDC in the coming weeks. The vaccine will be packaged in smaller configurations that will make it easier for providers to offer the vaccine to kids and their families. 

“Life during these last few months of the pandemic has been especially complicated for parents of young children because their kids haven’t been eligible for the vaccine,” said Lisa Denike, MD, Chief of Pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente. “Being able to vaccinate this age group is a big step forward in keeping our kids safe while they’re at school and out in the community, limiting the spread of COVID, and bringing this pandemic to an end. We’re pleased to partner with PPS to make the vaccination process as easy as possible for parents, by bringing it directly into schools.”

COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots will also be available to PPS parents and guardians. In order to receive a vaccine, a student must be accompanied by their parent or guardian. The vaccine mandate currently being discussed by the PPS Board would not apply to children ages 5 to 11. The Board is currently only considering a mandate for students ages 12 and older.

"Medical Teams International is proud to serve alongside Kaiser Permanente to provide COVID-19 vaccinations in this program with Portland Public Schools," said Cindy Breilh, Medical Teams International Executive Director of U.S. Programs. "Our experience, administering more than 3,000 COVID-19 immunizations at 186 events with Kaiser Permanente in the Pacific Northwest, makes us a trusted partner. We are dedicated to preserving the health and well-being of children and families, and most especially to protecting those in our community experiencing barriers to vaccine access." 

PPS has been actively planning for the pilot project over the last several months. The Biden Administration recently announced its operational plans for vaccinating children ages 5 to 11; a key component of that plan is working with states and local partners to make vaccination sites easily accessible at local schools.

After assessing the pilot vaccine clinics, the district will add more opportunities for clinics. The Administration’s plan also calls for pediatric vaccine clinics to be held at more than 25,000 pediatricians’ offices and other primary care clinics across the country, as well as pharmacies, children’s hospitals, community centers, and more. The Administration has procured enough vaccines to support vaccination for the country’s 28 million children ages 5 to 11 years old. 

“One day our students will recount their own experiences of receiving a vaccine that changed the course of their generation’s pandemic for the better,” said Guerrero. “Vaccination is the best tool we have to help keep our students, and our broader community, healthy and safe. We’re grateful to collaborate with partners to make this upcoming vaccination opportunity available and accessible to our families.”

Visit pps.net to learn more about the district’s protocols for keeping students and staff safe from COVID-19.

Source: Portland Public Schools

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