SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Editor's note: The attached video originally aired on Nov. 3, 2021
Following the CDC's authorization of COVID vaccines for some of the youngest Americans, one of the largest school districts in Minnesota is encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated.
On Thursday Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) Superintendent Dr. Joe Gotthard and health officials announced plans to make the COVID vaccine available to younger children.
"We need to make sure all of our children, all of students, have access to these life saving vaccinations," said Dr. Gotthard. "It is not only incumbent upon us as a school district and a community, but as humans, as neighbors, as friends, as educators."
According to the district, there are around 17,000 SPPS students in the 5- to 11-year-old age range that are now eligible for a vaccine.
"By you getting the vaccine, you not only protect yourself but people around you," said SPPS Health and Wellness Director Mary Langworthy. "So be thinking more broadly about your family, your friends, your extended community and how we can protect each other.
According to the SPPS COVID-19 online dashboard, there have been 63 positive COVID cases across the district so far in November. Officials say vaccination could lead to fewer interruptions in the classroom.
"It will also reduce interruptions to in-person learning and the need for quarantining large numbers of students," said Langworthy who reiterated the vaccines are safe and more than 90% effective.
Two elementary schools in the district will host vaccine clinics for young children, Como Park Elementary School and Battle Creek Elementary School. Appointments are required to get 5-11-year-olds vaccinated at these locations:
Como Park Elementary School
- 780 Wheelock Pkwy W., Saint Paul, MN 55117
- Mondays, 3 – 6 p.m., Nov. 15, 22 and 29 for first doses; Dec. 6, 13 and 20 for second doses.
Battle Creek Elementary School
- 60 Ruth St S., Saint Paul, MN 55119
- Tuesdays, 3 – 6 p.m., Nov. 16, 23 and 30 for first doses; Dec. 7, 14 and 21 for second doses.
SPPS already hosts a weekly vaccine clinic for people 12 and older on Fridays at Gordon Parks High School. More information about this program is available here.
The Saint Paul - Ramsey County Public Health is also offering COVID vaccines at community centers across the county.
The clinic announcement comes one day after Gov. Tim Walz announced a similar statewide push for kids to get vaccinated. A new website launched on Wednesday connects families to clinics and answers any questions about vaccinations for this age group.
Because younger children receive a smaller dose of the vaccine than adults or teens, families need to be sure they find a provider offering the shot their young children need.
Currently, only the two-dose Pfizer vaccine has been approved for kids.
Young people 12-17 who haven't been vaccinated yet are eligible for Minnesota's "Kids Deserve A Shot" program. Getting a first dose between Oct. 18 and Nov. 9 with a second shot by Nov. 30 could earn them $200 and a chance to win scholarships and other prizes. Learn more about this program here.