On Thursday, May 6, Shaler Area High School held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for students ages 16 and older as well as staff members. Giant Eagle pharmacists administered the Pfizer vaccine to all eligible students who signed up. All in all, 97 students, or 8 percent of the high school population, received a vaccine.
“It was really good, I was so pleased,” Shaler Area High School Nurse Mrs. Leslie Scheuer said. “The pharmacists from Giant Eagle were rock stars. They had these well-oiled machines, so it went pretty quickly, but they were so nice with the students.”
After students received their vaccine, they had to sit for 15 minutes before they went back to class. Students with a history of allergies were required to stay for a half hour as a precaution. Juice and cookies were also available for everyone while they waited.
“Overall it was a better experience than I was expecting and I cannot wait to get my second vaccine,” junior Alexis Gregory said.
Those who received their first vaccine at the clinic will be getting their second one on Thursday, June 3.
“The experience was very positive. The people from Giant Eagle were tremendous. Couple of our students were upset and the nurses from Giant Eagle were excellent with the students,” Superintendent Dr. Sean Aiken said.
In addition to the high school clinic, the school district is investigating whether it would be able to do a clinic in June, most likely at the Middle School building. There are numerous barriers, such as sports, jobs, and transportation, that stand in the way of many getting vaccinated, but the district hopes that hosting a clinic would take away some of the obstacles that come with getting vaccinated. It is not known if that clinic would be for only students and staff or if it would also include community members.
“We talk first and foremost about meeting the needs of our students and staff, but if we can, we’d be open to the idea of opening (a vaccination clinic) to the community and serve as a community hub,” Dr. Aiken said.
Just last week the Pfizer vaccine was approved for ages 12-15, but the possibility of another school clinic for the younger kids is probably unrealistic. Squeezing in two doses at some point during the rest of this school year is difficult, and it might not align with Giant Eagle’s schedule. Therefore, a clinic after school is out seems like the most promising option.
Looking into the 2021-22 school year, Scheuer doesn’t envision a COVID-19 vaccine being a requirement to return to school. The decision process with something like that takes 6-12 months, if not longer, as it goes back and forth between the committee and the community.
“Just in terms of getting back to normal life, vaccines are playing a big role, but I don’t see it being required for school yet,” Mrs. Scheuer said.
However, the importance of getting a covid vaccine is huge. Scheuer believes we’re going to see small mutations of the virus throughout our lifetimes, maybe not as severe as a pandemic, but things that affect public health. It’s critical that we’re protected against any mutated viruses that have a chance of getting a foothold again.
“I’m hoping a lot of the high school is vaccinated by the fall, that will just make things so much more normal for us,” Mrs. Scheuer said.