(UPDATED, Nov. 17, with details about COVID-19 vaccine clinics at Caldwell schools.)
The Boise, Caldwell and Teton school districts are offering on-site COVID-19 vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds, EdNews confirmed after reviewing procedures in nearly a dozen Idaho districts.
The decisions represent a break from most Idaho school districts, which are not providing vaccinations on site.
The moves come more than a week after federal regulators OK’d the shot for the younger age group. Since then, pharmacies and doctors’ offices have opened their doors for appointments.
In the Boise district, vaccine clinics are planned throughout the next two weeks in partnership with the grocery chain Albertsons. Parents should fill out a consent form and an emergency use authorization fact sheet before their child’s appointments.
Insurance is not required, said spokesperson Dan Hollar, but insured people should bring an insurance card.
Each Boise school clinic is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Longfellow Elementary will have a clinic Tuesday, followed by one at White Pine Elementary Wednesday and one at Jefferson Elementary Thursday. Pierce Park Elementary will hold a clinic next Monday, Nov. 29, with another clinic planned for Trail Wind Elementary on Nov. 30.
In Caldwell schools, clinics are planned Thursday in partnership with Albertsons, said district spokesperson Jessica Watts. The clinics will be held at Jefferson and Syringa middle schools. Parental consent is required for vaccines, according to an email the district sent to families. The vaccine emergency use authorization fact sheet is available at this link.
Watts said clinics planned for Wednesday and Friday with Southwest District Health were cancelled. The district is working to reschedule the vaccine clinics with other community partners.
In the Teton district, shots are being scheduled with Teton Valley Health for Tuesday, Nov. 16, and Nov. 19 at the district’s elementary schools. Sixth-graders can also get a shot Nov. 16 or Nov. 19 at Teton Middle School.
Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme said more info has been sent to families and staff in Teton, and permission forms are on the way.
Many school administrators say the vaccine is already widely available outside schools, and state officials agree that access will not be a holdup.
The Moscow School District pondered an onsite COVID-19 vaccine clinic for young kids — but ruled against it as providers began offering the shot to local youngsters. And in the Bonneville School District, leaders say parents were widely uninterested in a school-hosted vaccination site.
The general lack of school-based clinics isn’t a problem, Idaho State Department of Health and Welfare Vaccine Operations Manager Tamarie Olson said at a Tuesday news conference. She doesn’t anticipate supply problems, and the vaccine should hit new sites around the state in the coming days.
The preordered doses should all be distributed by close of business Tuesday, and additional doses went out to the pharmacies.
“The pediatric vaccine is rolling out smoothly,” Olson said.
As of Tuesday, 2,257 children ages 5 to 11 received their first Pfizer dose, with no reports of serious health complications, said state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn.
With few school-based vaccine clinics, Idaho Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch said health districts are working closely with education partners to set up a “wide variety of environments” for pediatric vaccines. In East Idaho, drive-through clinics have offered after-school vaccination hours, administering several hundred pediatric doses and booster doses for families.
Parents have been able to get the vaccines either by walking in or setting up appointments, Hahn said. “We’ve had no reports of problems so far.”
Moscow School District Superintendent Gregory Bailey told EdNews that he is willing to do a clinic on campus, but there are already many nearby sites offering the jab. He doesn’t see the need for a school-based clinic, but still advocated for vaccines.
Emergency authorization of the vaccines for young kids “will allow us to move closer to normalcy in our schools,” Bailey wrote in a Monday letter to families. He asked parents to contact their doctors and pharmacists to find out how to get the vaccine.
Bonneville officials aren’t planning a clinic in part because parents don’t seem interested, said superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme. Only 13% of parents in a recent survey said they preferred a district organized vaccine clinic. About 48% said they preferred going to their own provider, while nearly 38% said they had either no preference or were unsure.
West Ada School District does not have any vaccination clinics planned, said spokesperson Char Jackson.
Here’s an interactive map of non-school locations where kids under 12 can get vaccinated:
Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert contributed to this story.