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Idaho schools not planning to provide on-site COVID vaccines for youngsters — for now


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BOISE ( Idaho’s public schools are not planning to provide on-campus COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds, Idaho EdNews found in a review of nearly a dozen major school districts.

But some schools have not ruled out the possibility.

Boise School District officials say they haven’t decided. The Moscow School District pondered an onsite COVID-19 vaccine clinic for young kids — but ruled against it as providers began offering the shot to local youngsters. And in the Bonneville School District, leaders say parents were widely uninterested in a school-hosted vaccination site.

The moves come a week after federal regulators OK’d the shot for the younger age group. Since then, pharmacies and doctors’ offices have opened their doors for appointments.

Many school administrators say the vaccine is already widely available outside schools, and state officials agree that access will not be a holdup.

The lack of school-based clinics isn’t a problem, Idaho State Department of Health and Welfare Vaccine Operations Manager Tamarie Olson said at a Tuesday news conference. She doesn’t anticipate supply problems, and the vaccine should hit new sites around the state in the coming days.

The preordered doses should all be distributed by close of business Tuesday, and additional doses went out to the pharmacies.

“The pediatric vaccine is rolling out smoothly,” Olson said.

As of Tuesday, 2,257 children ages 5 to 11 received their first Pfizer dose, with no reports of serious health complications, said state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn.

With few school-based vaccine clinics, Idaho Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch said health districts are working closely with education partners to set up a “wide variety of environments” for pediatric vaccines. In East Idaho, drive-through clinics have offered after-school vaccination hours, administering several hundred pediatric doses and booster doses for families.

Parents have been able to get the vaccines either by walking in or setting up appointments, Hahn said. “We’ve had no reports of problems so far.”

Moscow School District Superintendent Gregory Bailey told EdNews that he is willing to do a clinic on campus, but there are already many nearby sites offering the jab. He doesn’t see the need for a school-based clinic, but still advocated for vaccines.

Emergency authorization of the vaccines for young kids “will allow us to move closer to normalcy in our schools,” Bailey wrote in a Monday letter to families. He asked parents to contact their doctors and pharmacists to find out how to get the vaccine.

Bonneville officials aren’t planning a clinic in part because parents don’t seem interested, said superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme. Only 13% of parents in a recent survey said they preferred a district organized vaccine clinic. About 48% said they preferred going to their own provider, while nearly 38% said they had either no preference or were unsure.

The Boise School District is talking to vaccine providers about possibly providing school-based vaccine clinics to increase “accessibility for eligible students,” spokesperson Dan Hollar told EdNews.

Conversations are preliminary as leaders “solidify” some plans, Hollar added. The district will share more information in the coming days, including other vaccination clinics in the community.

West Ada School District does not have any vaccination clinics planned, said spokesperson Char Jackson.

Here’s an interactive map of where kids under 12 can get vaccinated:

Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert contributed to this story.

This article was originally posted on on November 11, 2021