Sam Watson kept looking down at the adhesive bandage on his arm.
“One down, one to go,” the Suncrest Middle School eighth-grader said with a grin.
Sam and his classmates made a steady procession into the gym of the school on Baldwin Street.
In a place where basketball is normally the sport of choice, Monongalia County’s school district was playing hardball with COVID-19.
The district Wednesday afternoon began administering the first Pfizer doses to middle school students 12 to 15 years of age.
And Sam, who is 13, and might want to be a professional baseball player after school, was in the first round.
“I was excited to get it done,” he said. “And I’ll be able to do a lot more things over the summer.”
Which is the whole idea, district officials said.
Getting shots in arms, Deputy Schools Supervisor Donna Talerico said, means eventually achieving herd immunity – which epidemiologists and health-watchers say can happen after 70% of the populace is inoculated.
“That way we get back to full classes and prom and sports,” she said. “All the things that are ‘normal.’”
By the end of this week, in the meantime, the district plans on getting 1,500 shots into the arms of county middle-schoolers who registered.
That’s 900 shy of the total 2,400 students in those grades on the county’s rolls this year.
COVID-19, though, also keeps answering roll in the district.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the district reported a positive case of a staffer at Mason Dixon Elementary School, resulting in the additional quarantining of two other employees. No students were affected this time.
In the Suncrest Middle gym, meanwhile, socially distanced vaccination stations were set up to keep the flow going.
“We’ve gotten pretty good at this,” said Susan Haslebacher, the district’s health officer.
“And we want to get even more vaccinated.”
Nothing to it, Olivia Lupo said, as she held her arm out for inspection.
The Suncrest Middle sixth-grader admitted she was “a little nervous” – right up until she sat down to receive the dosage.
“I’m glad I got the shot,” she said. “We all have to do this.”