With the announcement that school aged children 12 to 17 can now be vaccinated against COVID-19, with anyone born in 2009 or earlier being eligible as per a provincial announcement on May 20, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) is calling upon the Provincial Health Officer and Minister of Health to plan in-school vaccination clinics.
This would be particularly useful in the Fraser Health region, the hardest hit health authority in BC, where approximately half of all students in the province aged 12 to 18 reside. Fraser Health has seen the highest number of school exposures, with dozens of exposure alerts being issued.
“Reducing barriers is essential to the success of BC’s vaccination program,” said Teri Mooring, BCTF President.
“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. 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.”
Other vaccinations are already offered in schools, most notably to Grade 9 students who are given a meningococcal vaccine, and Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis).
“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% of the population vaccinated and bringing the vaccines into schools can help us get there much faster.”