Kids are next in line to get their COVID-19 vaccinations in B.C., and the teachers union wants to see it happening in schools.
The BC Teachers’ Federation is calling for in-school vaccination clinics throughout the province, as part of the school-aged vaccine rollout, particularly in the hardest-hit regions.
“Reducing barriers is essential to the success of B.C.’s vaccination program. We’ve seen the province do it with pop-up clinics in high-transmission neighbourhoods, so it’s unclear to us why they are not extending that logic to their approach to vaccinating students,” said Teri Mooring, BCTF president.
“Schools regularly co-ordinate parental consent forms, schools have gyms and cafeterias that could be used, and most importantly, the students are already there. Nobody has to take time off school or work and make the trip to a community clinic if we bring the vaccines to them.”
The province announced Thursday that youth 12 to 17 (born in 2009 or earlier) can now register and get vaccinated against COVID-19. It said most vaccine appointments for this age group will take place at the same immunization clinics used to vaccinate people in other age groups.
Korleen Carreras, the chair of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School Board, said the announcement is brand new, and the district will be following the lead of Fraser Health.
“We’re just getting the information now, about that rollout looks like,” she said, but noted the school district does have protocols and processes in place to offer vaccinations in schools.
“We would be open to hosting clinics in schools, if that’s the plan.”
Carreras noted her own teen son is already registered to receive the jab.
The district has annual school-based immunization clinics for kids in Grades 6 and 9, organized by Fraser Health, and administered by health authority staff. In 2019, the district hosted school-based catch-up immunizations clinics for measles.
The BCTF noted about half of all students aged 12 to 18 in B.C. reside in the Fraser Health region, which is also where the highest number of school exposure notices are consistently being issued.
“Setting up in-school vaccination clinics is the best way to vaccinate as many eligible students as possible in the shortest amount of time, focusing initially on the schools experiencing the highest numbers of exposures,” said Mooring. “We need at least 75 per cent of the population vaccinated and bringing the vaccines into schools can help us get there much faster.”
Young people can register themselves and book their appointment by calling 1-833-838-2323, at any Service BC centre, or online at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated.
Parents, guardians and trusted adults are also able to register and book for young people, with appointment invitations sent to those who are older first.
“We’re making incredible progress in protecting people with vaccines, and we’re now inviting young people and their families to join us in our efforts,” said Adrian Dix, minister of Health. “Protect your communities, families and loved ones by registering and getting your vaccine.”
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