A Covid-19 vaccination clinic for students age 12 to 17 was held in the library of Irvington’s middle school/high school campus on Tuesday, July 13. The event — open Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, and Irvington — attracted about 20 students. All had made appointments in advance, as required.
The students received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. According to the Westchester County Department of Health, the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still only approved for those 18 years of age and older.
Irvington Schools Superintendent Kris Harrison reached out to the County Department of Health (DOH) on behalf of the quad villages “in the hope of increasing access to vaccines for those interested, and having more students vaccinated in advance of the start of the school year,” he told the Enterprise.
A follow-up session for the second shot is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 4, at the same venue. “The timing of this is so students will be fully vaccinated in time for school opening in September,” Harrison said.
He could only guess why so few students took advantage of the clinic. Was it vaccine reluctance on the part of parents, or something else? “You can look at it as folks being on vacation,” he offered. “Or I would hope, it could be many folks have already had their children vaccinated. We respect everyone’s choices on the matter.”
The DOH provided the medical professionals to administer the vaccines, while the Irvington School District had a nurse present to monitor those who had just been vaccinated. Other district staff was on hand to greet and register participants.
Asked whether he had a goal in terms of the percentage of students he would like to see vaccinated, Harrison said, “This is not data that we are able to track at this time... our goal is to support those who are interested in having their child vaccinated to gain access, not necessarily advocating for children to be vaccinated, as that is a personal medical decision.”
On May 19, a vaccination clinic for quad-village students was held at Dobbs Ferry Middle/High School, where 150 teenagers were vaccinated.
Since school districts will have no way of finding out which students are vaccinated, they will have to follow guidance from the state Department of Education regarding social distancing requirements. As of this week, Harrison said, “All of the school superintendents are anxiously awaiting the next layer of guidance that will come down from the New York Department of Health and the County about how to operate our schools and whether it will be mask-free.”
As to whether furniture will continue to be spaced widely apart and plastic barriers used in some situations, Harrison said that the district was “hopeful that we’ll be able to resume traditional seating in our cafeterias, libraries, and other spaces. But if necessary, we will provide the structures required.”
On June 7, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that school districts could choose to stop requiring students to wear masks outdoors, but he left the indoor mask mandate in place. But on July 9, the CDC released new guidelines indicating that vaccinated students and teachers would not need to wear masks indoors. The guidance wasn’t a mandate, however, and the final decision on implementing it was left up to local officials, who would have to grapple with the question of how to require proof of vaccination without running afoul of privacy laws.