Time running out to get teen students fully vaccinated ahead of school year's start
State and county health officials are urging parents to get their children ages 12-17 a first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine before Aug. 1. The reason? The vaccination process takes about five weeks from the first shot to final immunity – and the first day of school is about five weeks away.
“There is an option for people to get your children protected and you should take it,” Democratic Assemblyman Herb Conaway says to parents. “If you want your child to have an uninterrupted school year, whether it be in the classroom or on the playing field, get your child vaccinated and help return school life to normal.”
In addition to being a lawmaker, Conaway is a doctor who works as an internist. He is also the Burlington County health officer.
“People should plan on five weeks to get to full vaccination. So if you start early in August, you should be ready for the upcoming school year,” he says.
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Conaway says guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently allows vaccinated students to remain at their schools even if there is an outbreak among their classmates.
“If you're vaccinated, and there's an outbreak in your school - that is, the kid next door and the kid in the classroom that gets COVID - you who are vaccinated don't have to be separated from school. You can continue on in school uninterrupted. You can continue to go to your athletic events,” Conaway says.
VACCINE INFORMATION: Check to see if you are eligible
APPOINTMENT INFORMATION: Where and how to get vaccinated
About 50% of 12- to 17-year-olds in Burlington County are vaccinated. Conaway says that he wants to push that up to 70%.
When asked about schools requiring the COIVD-19 vaccine to attend in the future, Conaway says, “I think we're not there yet as a society…Part of what we're seeing in the success of the vaccination program, relieving the current generation and even the generation past from these dreaded diseases has caused people to become complacent against the vaccination program generally. That's a real shame.”
Burlington County is also partnering with school districts to start school-based vaccination clinics for kids and adults. A full list is available on the county website.