Paterson officials urge parents to get young students vaccinated against COVID-19
One of New Jersey’s largest school districts is making a move to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 among its youngest students.
The Paterson School District began a new in-school vaccination program on Monday. The clinics will be set up in 11 school buildings. The program began at Public School 28, with the goal of boosting the number of children who are vaccinated against the virus.
Paterson officials say that the number of vaccinated 5- to 11-year-olds is currently very low. Only 29% of that age group has received the vaccine.
Paterson School Superintendent Dr. Eileen Shafer says she is still battling misinformation about the vaccine among parents. When asked why more children aren't vaccinated, she told us parents have offered up a number of reasons.
MORE: Search for a Cure
“It’s the hesitancy, it’s the length of testing, it’s ‘Now that the numbers are good, we don’t need it.’ It’s also that it’s not a mandated vaccination,” Shafer says.
She says she is holding a community forum to educate parents about the vaccine.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh says that he and his wife have decided to get their two children vaccinated after getting reassurance from their pediatrician.
COVID RESOURCES: COVID-19 vaccine resources and case data
SEARCH FOR A CURE: Statistics and State Resources
"We've had this vaccination for over a year. It's proven to be safe and effective,” the mayor says.
Paterson is also offering up incentives for children to get the vaccine, including $10 vouchers to McDonald's for kids following a second shot. The city even brought 'Batman' to the clinic to help children feel comfortable.
The state Department of Health reported 754 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Monday, down from Friday’s 1,200. The rate of transmission remains over 1.
Public School 28 is the first to have a vaccination clinic. The next will be at International High School and others will open on a rolling basis.
Masks are mandatory in Paterson schools, which may have helped to bring down the number of cases. The district is now seeing two to 10 cases a week. It was 200 a week before Christmas.