Time ticking to get kids fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ahead of new school year

The clock is ticking to get your kids fully vaccinated against the coronavirus before school starts. The school year begins August 10 in Lee County and Collier County. So Doctors say parents who want their kids, ages 12 and up, to get the shot should consider looking at vaccine opportunities now.

With the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only one kids 12 and up are able to get, you need five weeks to become fully vaccinated.

The school year begins about four weeks Thursday, which is why health experts are urging parents to make those appointments as soon as possible.

For parents who would like to get their kids vaccinated for the upcoming school year, medical professionals say the clock is ticking.

“You definitely want to get that first vaccine right away,” said Dr. Rebekah Bernard with Gulf Coast Direct Primary Care. “Or if you are due for the second booster shot, then of course, go ahead and get that scheduled as soon as possible.”

Bernard says kids were not as affected by the virus last year, but as the virus has mutated, the risk to kids has gone up.

“They are getting sicker than they were previously,” Bernard said. “We are even hearing some reports of very young kids actually being admitted to the hospital and even requiring ventilator support.”

Parents we spoke to say they appreciate these reminders ahead of the school year.

“If this will be what it takes to encourage the next group of people to go and get the vaccine, that’s great,” said lloyd Duhon, the parent of two children going back to school. “That’s going to be the thing that puts the lid on this.”

Multiple family members in Duhon’s family have compromised immune systems, so he doesn’t want to take any chances.

“It’s about finding the right mitigation, whatever that is,” Duhon said. “In our family’s case, you know, our younger two don’t have any of those immune compromised issues, so they’re a little safer.”

For other parents, whose children aren’t old enough to get the vaccine, they still feel confident heading into the new school year.

“I guess it is good.,” said Sammi Treglown, whose son and daughter are going back to school. “I guess the school board is trying to be ahead of the game, getting people aware or mindful of what needs to happen if they plan to get them vaccinated.”

Bernard also says as more kids get vaccinated, that will also mean fewer days missed of school.

Lee Health statement

“Lee County Schools start their school year on August 10th, and time is running out for parents to ensure their kids are vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to the classroom. The Pfizer vaccine, which is currently authorized to be given to children age 12 and older, requires 21 days between doses. This means children must get their first dose by July 19 in order to receive their second dose before school resumes. Students will then be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose, however there will still be an added level of immunity from their first dose during the first two weeks of school.

The number of coronavirus cases is on the rise in Southwest Florida, and the virus is affecting younger people more harshly than it was last year. To make returning to school as safe as possible, Lee Health is encouraging all parents to get their kids who are old enough vaccinated. Lee Health is offering the vaccine at no cost at Gulf Coast Medical Center from 7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. A parent must be present with their child and walk-ins are welcome. For more information please visit www.leehealth.org.

Parents can also take their children to the Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Mobile Pediatric Vaccination Clinic, which makes several stops each week around Southwest Florida to vaccinate children 12 years-old and older for COVID-19. The Mobile Pediatric Vaccination Clinic is walk-up only, and there is no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine. The next stop is Saturday July 17, 9 a.m.-noon, at QLC (Quality Life Center), located at 3210 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers. A parent or authorized guardian must accompany a minor for vaccination. The second dose will be set for the same location or one nearby.”

NCH Healthcare System statement

“In accordance with CDC guidelines, NCH continues to strongly recommend that everyone in our community 12 years and older who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine get vaccinated. School aged children who get the vaccine will not only offer a level of protection to themselves, but it may also help them from spreading COVID-19 to others in the classroom, according to the CDC. Vaccines can also help keep children from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19.

The wait period between the two shot vaccine series is three weeks, so parents should plan accordingly to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated as early in the school year as possible.

NCH shared our vaccine clinic hours with Collier County Public School officials last month in an effort to further educate parents and offer the NCH vaccine clinic as a source for their children 12 years or older to receive the vaccine.

Those in the community who wish to receive the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge can make an appointment with the NCH COVID Vaccine clinic at Eagleview, 2450 Goodlette Rd, Suite 201 in Naples by visiting our website’s COVID information page at www.NCHmd.org. Appointments are available anytime from 8am thru 3:30pm weekdays.”

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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