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Little arms, big benefit: Mon Schools ready to vaccinate students in 5-11 age group

The COVID vaccine could be going into the arms of Monongalia County’s youngest students as early as Nov. 15, officials from the school district said.

“Well, right now, we’re still tentative on the exact date,” Deputy Schools Superintendent Donna Talerico said, “but the idea is to get that first dose administered before Thanksgiving break.”

Clinics will be held at Mon’s 10 elementary schools for students aged 5 to 11.

“Then, we’ll be back for the second doses before Christmas and winter break,” the deputy superintendent added.

“It’s ambitious, but we’re determined to get it done.”

She said the district had been working ahead in anticipation of the rollout for the kid-size doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which cleared the federal hurdles for approval earlier this week.

The vaccine for youngsters had to get the green light from both Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Talerico said the in-school clinics are set up to accommodate parents or other caregivers, should they need to be present to quell any anxiety.

“We just want to keep our kids and our families comfortable,” the former elementary teacher and principal said.

Health officials said earlier that 50,000 doses for the children are earmarked for here. That comes out to shots for 35% of the Mountain State’s 141,000 children in that 5 to 11 age group.

In Mon County, meanwhile, employees of the school district will roll up their sleeves for their COVID boosters this coming Tuesday, and again on Nov. 18.

Which, Talerico said, might mean the district will finally receive a long-overdue exhale, in return.

“We know the landscape,” she said. “We’re doing everything correctly.”

Each shot in the arm of a student and employee, she said, means one more notch toward normalcy – “Or, at least as normal as we can make it right now.”

The goal, she said, is to ease past more of the mileposts to that normalcy, be it in the form of a Christmas pageant or field trip.

“We’re still masking and social-distancing and doing all the protocols,” she said.

“Our students have been great through all of this.”

COVID has also been consistent in Mon’s schools through all of this, however.

The district closed out last week with 18 positive cases among students, with another 97 classmates on quarantine.

Seven staffers also presented with positive diagnoses, and two other staffers were isolating for safety.

As of Wednesday, Mon had dipped back into gold on the County Alert Map maintained by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Ten counties were showing red and just eight were in green, the safest hue on the map.

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