Monroe Township Public Schools teamed with Inspira Health to administer over 100 vaccines to students ages 12 through 15 at Williamstown High School on June 3.
“We are following the science and data, which says [the vaccine] is safe,” said Monroe Superintendent Dr. Susan Ficke. “We have students who are in school and who will be returning to school in September, and we want to be giving them every opportunity to get access to the vaccine.”
The Monroe district invited Inpira to the high school for the first time on May 10, and the health-care system administered about 100 doses to adults and students 16 years and older. When Inspira returned on June 3 to administer second shots, Ficke decided it was a great opportunity to help students between 12 and 15 get their first doses.
“Our middle-school campus is close enough to the high school that we didn’t have to pay for busing … It is really a huge barrier we were able to remove,” said Ficke. “We really wanted to capitalize on the 3rd, when Inspira was already going to be there. So it really worked out.”
Students had to register for the vaccines by May 27 and signed permission slips were required to get an appointment. Middle schoolers were taken to the high school for the duration of the school day on June 3.
Due to the high demand for vaccination sites at schools, Inspira was unable to return and administer second doses for younger students. So Ficke worked with the health-care system to create a list of other vaccination sites.
“When we talked with [Inspira], they could not guarantee second doses on site,” Ficke explained. “So students will receive a menu choice of where parents can take them for their second shots … This was made clear to parents, so they knew with the second shot, they would have to get it done at a different Inspira location. Transportation will be on the parents to make sure they can get there, but all the sites are local, so we are not asking them to go too far.”
Ficke also reiterated that although schools will reopen in September with no remote option, vaccinations are not yet required.
“It is the parents’ choice,” she noted. “We are not forcing, but we want to make sure we are providing every opportunity for them to receive the vaccines.”