Through school hosted clinics, community members receive first doses and booster shots

Maddy Hammett

Friday, Oct. 29 marked another major change in the Covid-19 pandemic as the Food and Drug Administration authorized the administration of the Pfizer-BioN Tech Covid-19 vaccine in  children ages 5 through 11. In the community, young children begin to receive their first doses while older community members are receiving their booster shots.

The FDA, composed of a committee of experts, overwhelmingly voted in favor of approving the vaccine. The vote was taken after a long evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of the children’s vaccine.

This vaccine, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA, would act in the exact same fashion as the adult version of the Pfizer vaccine, attacking Covid-19 proteins in the same way. The difference; however, lies in the dosage of the vaccine itself.

“This vaccine provides a broad defense against Covid-19 and effectively neutralizes the delta variant in young kids,” senior vice president of the vaccine clinical research and development at Pfizer, Dr. William Gruber, said. “A dose of Pfizer for young children contains one-third the amount of active ingredient compared to the adult dosage.”

The school hosted a vaccine clinic for children to get vaccinated on Saturday, Nov. 13. At this clinic children dosages of the Pfizer vaccine were administered as well as booster shots for those who needed them.

“[We] hosted a vaccine clinic for the ESD community, faculty, staff, alumni and anyone else who wanted to attend,” lower school nurse Carla Thomas said. “Vaccines were available for children 5 to 11 to receive their first Pfizer vaccine, as well as children and adults to receive initial doses or boosters.”

Many in the community are relying on the vaccine clinics provided by the school to receive their boosters and children’s dosages. The vaccine clinics continue to be hosted throughout the duration of the holiday season to make sure children in the community get their second dosages.

“We’ll be doing a follow-up clinic this Saturday, Dec. 4, for our 5 to 11 year olds to get their second shots so they will have full immunity by Dec. 18,” Thomas said . “[On] time for the Christmas Break and holidays.” 

As children receive their initial doses, upper schoolers have continued their immunization process, receiving boosters through the school’s hosted clinics. Gabe Kozielec, a senior, received his booster at a school-hosted vaccine clinic on Dec. 4 and was impressed with the school’s efficiency in the administration of the doses.

“I got my booster at the clinic ESD hosted on Saturday,” Kozielec said. “With the clinic being at ESD with people I knew, the whole process felt really efficient and I was able to get in and out super fast.”

Along with adults receiving booster shots, many adults in the community have made the decision to vaccinate their children. French and Arabic teacher Laila Kharrat, like many in the community, chose to vaccinate her children, ages 7 and 9, against Covid-19, believing it was the safest option for her family before the holidays.

“Especially this Thanksgiving, we’re spending a lot of time with family, ” Kharrat said. “So we wanted to get the first vaccine before being with a lot of family and eventually wanted the kids to get the second dose by Christmas and New Year.”

Family gatherings and the holiday season have prompted not just children to get vaccinated. Kozielec, like many, received his booster to continue to protect the members of his family who would be at risk for the damaging side effects of Covid-19. 

“For those who can’t get the vaccine, I think it’s important that I get the vaccine for those family members who are unable to protect themselves,” Kozielec said. “I have a couple family members who are immunocompromised and I feel much safer now having the booster. I know that as the holiday season approaches I will be able to gather with them without worrying about getting any of them sick.”

As more members of the community begin to get vaccinated, mandatory masking in the lower school could be brought into question, similar to the discourse seen previously regarding masking in the upper school. The health and safety committee for the community is currently discussing the possibility of transitioning to a mask-optional lower school.

“The Health & Safety Committee is optimistic that the wide availability of the vaccine will encourage parents to immunize their children so that masks can move to a recommended and not required position when we return in January,” Thomas said. “Masking and high vaccination rates still remain the best preventative measures in fighting this pandemic and moving us to an endemic status.”

Although the possibility of becoming mask-optional in the lower school is uncertain. One thing is certain in the community; children are getting their first doses and many are receiving their boosters.

“Dr. Sadeh and his staff administered 130 vaccines at the clinic, with approximately 110 of those being vaccines for those children 5 to 11 years old,” Thomas said. “Other parents have been getting their children vaccinated at local pharmacies such as CVS or Walgreens, at allergy physician’s offices and some pediatrician’s offices.”

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