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Mon school district begins vaccinating its youngest students against COVID

MORGANTOWN — At first glance, it appeared the student was cradling her arm, oh-so-gingerly.

But an obvious grin was crinkling up from under her face mask, and she was waggling her fingers for all to see.

Her teacher was delighted.

“Carley, you did it!” the Ridgedale Elementary School educator exclaimed. “Good job, buddy. You got your COVID shot.”

“Yeah, I did,” came Carley’s still-grinning, still-waggling, reply. “I’m glad.”

Monongalia County’s youngest students began rolling up their sleeves for said vaccine Wednesday.

The district expects to inoculate 245 students ages 5-11 in the county’s 10 elementary schools by the end of the week.

Everything moved quickly after the kid-sized doses were approved last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

At Ridgedale on Wednesday, students queued up in the hallway leading to the gym. Some had their moms and maybe a stuffed animal for support.

Others went it alone.

“It hurt a little bit at first,” Olivia said. “Maybe.”

“I wasn’t nervous,” Briella said.

Sheri Petitte wasn’t shy about saying she was.

“Yeah, just call me, ‘the nervous administrator,’ ” said Petitte, who is principal of the school on Goshen Road.

“I just wanted to make we got everything set up and that none of our kids got upset.”

Save for the occasional tears and (rare) incidents of last-second balking, most of the students were good-humored about the whole thing as they threaded through eight stations in the gym.

Susan Haslebacher, the district’s health director, oversaw the proceedings.

The clinic was co-hosted by Champion Pharmacy in Bridgeport, Harrison County, which had pharmacists there.

WVU nursing students also helped staff the event along with school nurses from the district.

Twenty minutes in – and everyone was out. Even Haslebacher was amazed.

“We’re done? Good. We’ve only got a short window for our schools.”

As in, 10 schools by Friday, she said.

Ridgedale’s recipients were herded to a “recovery room” classroom after receiving their doses.

They stayed for 15 to 30 minutes, while health professionals watched for any adverse reaction to the shot.

“We have a snack for them,” Petitte said. “They can read a book or watch a movie.”

The principal said she appreciated the district’s overture.

“Families are going to make the decision that’s right for them,” she said, “but I’m happy we were able to give them an opportunity today.”

Haslebacher gave everyone a good grade for the day.

“Our kids have been great,” she said, “but they’ve been great all through this.”

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