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January 17, 2022

School District of Philadelphia, Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium team up for vaccine clinics

A series of vaccination and booster events will be held inside Philly schools, officials say

As public health officials across the United States search for ways to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among young children, the School District of Philadelphia is teaming up with the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium to hold vaccine clinics at local schools.

The program will be supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Vaccines and booster shots will be available for students, staff and their families. 

Vaccination rates for children ages 5-11 have lagged since shots were authorized for this age group in November. As of mid-January, just about 27% of young children had received one dose and only 18% had received both doses, according to CDC data. These rates are increasing much more slowly than those for children between 12-15 years old, who were authorized to get vaccinated last May.

The stalled vaccination effort among younger kids has been particularly alarming in the context of the omicron variant surge, which has led to record numbers of coronavirus infections over the last six weeks. A number of factors have contributed to the slow progress, from access barriers and the difficulty of finding appointments for kids to fear and misinformation.

The new vaccine program in Philadelphia will begin Tuesday at Paul Robeson High School in University City, located at 4125 Ludlow St., where a clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A second clinic will be held at the same location Thursday from 2-7 p.m. for any people eligible for the vaccine, regardless of their affiliation with the school.

The school-based vaccination partnership will bring vaccination clinics to seven more district schools through March, with coming dates and times open for registration as information becomes available.

"This is a proactive move to help students, staff and their families," said School District Superintendent William R. Hite. "Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the health and well-being of students and staff has been our top priority. We have been very intentional about listening to the science and the science is very clear – vaccines are a very effective way to mitigate the spread of this virus."

The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, led by Dr. Ala Stanford, has played a leading role in helping underserved communities throughout the pandemic response. The organization provided early testing and expanded vaccine access during the initial months of the rollout last year.

"As with any public health crisis, you must go to the people and this is no different," Stanford said. "The partnership with the School District of Philadelphia will make it very easy for children and their families to get vaccinated and help keep our communities safer as the pandemic continues. By educating our students and families we are helping them to make informed decisions, working to keep our children safe, and ensuring that schools can safely stay open for in-person learning."

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