ONA, WV (WOWK) — In what may be the start of a bigger initiative, Cabell County Schools began offering COVID-19 vaccinations to students in its high schools today.
This comes as the CDC shows COVID-19 cases are increasing significantly among children under the age of 19.
Now, the district is making a concerted effort to get the COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of the nation’s teens.
The Cabell Midland High School gym filled with activity Wednesday morning.
“This week is really exciting. We’re offering vaccinations within the high schools in our county,” says Hannah Petracca, the public information officer for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.
It’s the first time the health department has actually gone into schools to give these vaccinations, and students say they are excited for the chance.
“Since every place is crowded with like, adults, and parents and grandparents who want to get their shots, I feel like it’s a great opportunity for the kids just to get theirs over with,” says Alex McVey, a junior at Cabell Midland High School.
Students from Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy vaccinated them in rapid-fire succession.
“We did 125 within the first 50 minutes,” Petracca says.
Those aged 16 and 17 needed a signed permission slip to get the shot—however, those aged 18 and older made the decision on their own.
“For many of them, it was their first big decision as an adult, as to whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” says Kelly Daniels, the associate principal at Cabell Midland High School.
Educators at Cabell Midland High School say students and staff were excited for this chance to get back to normalcy.
“I actually watched some of them come down the hallway waving their permission slips—they were excited about it,” Daniels says.
“It’s a great opportunity–we can have more sports here, everything is gonna open back up with everybody getting vaccinated,” McVey says.
“I’m excited to go to the beach and go see people and actually be able to do things a little bit more freely than we have been in the last year,” says Lauren Louden, a senior at Cabell Midland High School.
Another major rite of passage students say they are looking forward to getting back is prom.
“They said we’re going to have a prom, like I think its in May, but we’re gonna have it outside and stuff. Better than last year, we didn’t even have one last year!” says Jaydyn Johnson, a senior at Cabell Midland High School.
As more students get vaccinated in the coming weeks, everyone seems to agree:
“Things are definitely looking up,” Johnson says.
The in-school vaccination program continues through the week.
For the schedule and a link to the eligibility form, visit Cabell County Schools’ website here.
The CDC says the rise in COVID-19 among children is likely due to three things:
- Youth team sports activity
- Extracurricular activities
- COVID-19 fatigue
- False sense of security
The CDC director is warning that schools and parents should limit those extracurricular activities until vaccines for all age groups becomes more readily available. Most experts say that won’t be until school starts up again next fall.