At this time next week, middle and high school students in Fairfax County will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of their school day.
Now that adolescents aged 12-15 are eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine, Fairfax County Public Schools is partnering with the Fairfax County Health Department to open COVID-19 vaccination sites at several high schools around the county.
Announced in a letter sent to parents last night (Monday), the initial schedule will be:
- Tuesday, May 25: Bryant High School (2709 Popkins Lane, Alexandria)
- Wednesday, May 26: Langley High School (6520 Georgetown Pike, McLean)
- Thursday, May 27: Annandale High School (4700 Medford Dr., Annandale)
- Friday, May 28: Mount Vernon High School (8515 Old Mt. Vernon Rd., Alexandria)
More sites will be added starting on June 1, with at least five additional sites expected to be selected later in May, according to FCPS spokesperson Lucy Caldwell.
Registration is now open online for appointments, which will be scheduled between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day. Students must obtain parent or guardian consent by 8 p.m. on Thursday (May 20) to participate in next week’s clinics.
“It is important to register as soon as possible to ensure that your student will be able to take advantage of this opportunity,” FCPS said. “If maximum capacity is reached, families will be referred to the nearest vaccine clinic for an appointment.”
The county health department estimates that it will be able to vaccinate roughly 600-700 students a day with these clinics, according to Caldwell.
The clinics are open to all eligible students, not just students who attend the schools where they will be located. Transportation will be provided to and from the vaccination sites for all students, but students who are learning virtually need to be dropped off and picked up at their base school.
Caldwell says the schools scheduled for next week were chosen based on the availability of appropriate facilities.
“This is a busy time of year with testing and other events underway at our schools,” she told Reston Now by email. “The large rooms needed — gyms/cafeterias — were essential for the vaccination sites.”
FCPS and the Fairfax County Health Department announced that they were planning to organize vaccine clinics at schools last week after federal officials approved the Pfizer vaccine for people 12 to 15 years of age.
FCPS previously worked with Inova Health System to set up vaccine clinics specifically for school employees.
By partnering with the county health department, FCPS hopes to remove barriers with scheduling, transportation, or other issues that might make it challenging for some students to get access to the vaccine, Caldwell says.
In addition to hosting clinics, FCPS has launched an “Ask Me Why” information campaign to encourage eligible students to get vaccinated, which will be critical as the school system prepares to resume five days of in-person learning in the fall.
On top of the general public health benefits of getting immunized against a disease that 689 Fairfax County students have contracted since Sept. 8, fully vaccinated students will be able to continue attending school in person without having to quarantine if they are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
“We are hopeful that our students, ages 12 and up, will take advantage of vaccination and return to five days, in-person learning in Fall,” Caldwell said. “It is significant for many reasons, as we believe it is best for students to attend school in person, but also for the social-emotional aspect of building relationships, friendships and rapport with peers.”
Photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools