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How will schools respond as COVID-19 vaccinations become available to kids? Hall, Gainesville superintendents speak on the issue
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Andrea Gaines of the Hall County Health Department loads a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, Feb 4, 2021, as Gainesville City Schools holds a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Mundy Mill Academy for employees in Phase 1A+. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said he feels the school district is “a long way from any type of required COVID vaccinations” for its students.

“I would say that in my lifetime, one of the things that I have been most disappointed with is the fact that our nation has chosen to politicize a pandemic over the last 18 months,” Schofield said Wednesday, May 12. “(With) that being said, we have opinions all over the board about everything from masks to social distancing to vaccinations, and it is my firm belief that our job is to support the parents and families in this community.”

Schofield said the school district wants to put out as much accurate information in the community so families can make the best decision possible.

The Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization Monday, May 10, for Pfizer’s vaccine for adolescents ages 12 through 15. The previous authorization in December covered those aged 16 and older.

Northeast Georgia Health System is hosting an event Monday, May 17, with information regarding adolescent COVID-19 vaccinations.

The speakers include District 2 Public Health Director Dr. Zachary Taylor, Longstreet Clinic Pediatrics physician Dr. Katie Herzog and Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s medical director for infectious disease, Dr. Supriya Mannepalli.

In a post promoting the event, the Hall County school district said it “believes that vaccinations are a personal, family choice.”

Gainesville City Schools meanwhile is planning an information session followed by opportunities for vaccination.

“We are weighing options for our students and families, including a session for our extracurricular participants and a separate event during open house in August,” Gainesville City School System Superintendent Jeremy Williams said. “We are very early in the process, but that is where we are leaning.”

When asked what the likelihood was of the COVID-19 vaccine becoming a required immunization for students, Williams said it would not be a decision made by the school system and “would have to come from a higher level.”

District 2 Public Health spokesman Dave Palmer said the department would “work with parents, pediatricians and schools to provide vaccinations for the 12-15 age group.” Palmer said plans are underway.

Similar to other vaccines, there is a parental consent form that has to be signed for anyone under the age of 18.

Palmer said they would similarly offer the Pfizer vaccine to those 12 and older at the University of North Georgia mass vaccination site. He said appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins will be accepted.

COVID vaccine information

Virtual discussion with Northeast Georgia Health System about COVID-19 vaccines for adolescents

When: 12:15 p.m. Monday, May 17

Register: https://nghs.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EtCCC-43SWeQmamN7uCo7w

Regional events