This Monday is the last day public school students eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine can start their inoculation series, and be fully vaccinated before they head back to class September 13th. While the shots are not required, officials are encouraging all eligible children 12 and up to get them.
The de Blasio administration has promised a youth vaccination blitz in the weeks leading back to the start of school. Besides the city offering vaccinations at Summer Rising program sites and launching a $1.4 million ad campaign on subways and buses and in bodegas, the Education Department is promising phone calls to connect families with vaccines, and will set up home visits by request.
There will also be pop-up vaccination sites at school supply stores and sports practice during pre-season. And Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter announced this week that school PTAs can get $100 for every person they help get vaccinated.
At an appearance Saturday at the Harlem headquarters of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Porter appealed to families to vaccinate themselves and their kids over the age of 12.
“I know that this is a sensitive conversation for many of us but it’s important. It’s important not only for our school system, it’s important for our city. It’s important for our families, it’s important for us to get back to our new normal,” Porter said.
“We got to get our babies vaccinated. We have to get our families vaccinated. We have to keep each other safe, we have to do it for our communities to thrive in the way that they need to,” Porter said.
So far, officials said nearly 50% of kids 12-17 have gotten at least one dose. Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have indicated that they won’t mandate vaccines for K-12 students.
Like all city workers, public school staff must now get vaccinated or be tested weekly. As of late July, the Education Department said 60% of employees who have gotten at least one dose, although the number is likely higher because it does not include staff who got vaccinated outside the city.
The city’s push comes against the backdrop of a broader federal effort to increase inoculations among young people. The Biden Administration recently announced a similar strategy to get students vaccinated across the country, dubbing this week a “Week of Action” with outreach and text messages to teens.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only one authorized for children ages 12-17, includes two shots three weeks apart, and people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot.
Information on where to get shots can be found by going to vaccinefinder.nyc.gov.
Additional reporting by Sophia Chang.