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Education

Two St. Clair County School Districts Are Hosting COVID Vaccine Clinics For Students

Half of the freshman class at Belleville Township High School East arrive on campus on Sept. 17, 2020 for their orientation day. District 201, which includes Belleville East and West high schools, and East St. Louis School District 189 are the first school districts in St. Clair County to schedule COVID-19 vaccination clinics for students.
Derik Holtmann
/
Belleville News-Democrat
District 201, which includes Belleville East and West high schools, and East St. Louis School District 189 are the first school districts in St. Clair County to schedule COVID-19 vaccination clinics for students.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

Belleville Township High School 201 and East St. Louis School District 189 are the first school districts in St. Clair County to schedule COVID-19 vaccination clinics for students.

Students ages 12 and up with parental consent and their family members will be eligible to received their shots at either of District 201’s campuses on May 24 and 25. District 189 students 12 and older can get vaccinated at East St. Louis High School on May 28.

Belleville students won’t have classes those days and Superintendent Brian Mentzer said getting vaccinated at school could be less intimidating than some other options.

“It’s not a mandatory thing, it’s a community service,” Mentzer said. “ … It is a service for individuals who want it or need it.”

Nearly a quarter of the 171 new COVID-19 cases in St. Clair County the week before Tuesday were in children and teenagers, according to data from the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency.

As more adults are inoculated — more than 33% of St. Clair County’s population was fully vaccinated as of Wednesday — local case numbers among older age groups have largely tapered off.

Back in February and March, when many local districts were working with the health departments to vaccinate their staffs, Mentzer said about 575 of the district’s employees were vaccinated through the educator clinics in St. Clair County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved vaccinations for children ages 12 to 15 on Wednesday.

“I’ve already asked the question: if we know there’s going to be an expanded age group, can we make a modification?” Mentzer said of District 201’s plans for a vaccine clinic before the vaccine was approved for younger kids.

Mentzer said the district would look at opening up appointments at the two high schools for those younger students if the age group was expanded. If there are still appointments available next week, it would look at opening it up to the high schools’ feeder districts, which include Belle Valley 119, Belleville 118, Grant 110, Harmony-Emge 175, High Mount 116, Millstadt 160, Pontiac-William Holliday 105, Signal Hill 181, Whiteside 115 and Wolf Branch 113.

Children can get vaccinated at other sites as well, including at the mass vaccination site at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds in Belleville.

Already, a couple hundred people have indicated they’re interested in getting vaccinated through the school clinics, Mentzer said. Medical personnel will be available on-site to answer questions about the vaccine and provide information.

The Illinois Department of Public Health will help participants get a second appointment. Mentzer said he expects the second dose would be administered at a similar clinic at the high schools.

East St. Louis School District 189 said it is working with East Side Health District to organize its clinic. At this time, no district transportation services will be provided for students from other campuses to come to East St. Louis Senior High School, the district said in an email.

St. Clair County Health Department said it has been working with other districts and schools, but no other sites have been confirmed yet.

Megan Valley is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

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