Central New York school districts planning to administer COVID vaccine to younger children

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As we wait for the final approval from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to decide whether to recommend the low-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11-years old, some school districts are already figuring out ways to give the shots on school property.

Dr. Donna Desiato, Superintendent of East Syracuse Minoa Central Schools, is already asking parents and families in her district if they want their children 5 to 11-years-old to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s approved by the FDA.

“We actually have been very proactive with both Onondaga County and Upstate Medical Center. The county reached out to all superintendents to ascertain whether or not we’d be willing to host a site for the 5 to 11-year-vaccine when it is approved.”

DR. DONNA DESIATO, SUPERINTENDENT, EAST SYRACUSE MINOA central school district

Dr. Desiato said she and her administration are sorting out the details of hosting a vaccine clinic on school property for the younger children, but when the vaccine is approved, she says they’ll be ready.

“We have informed our parents that ESM will be ready and we will be hosting one of the clinics,” Dr. Desiato explained. “The determination of when that clinic will be, the date, the time and the location will be in collaboration with the Onondaga County Department of Health, but ESM is absolutely going to be ready.”

Dr. Desiato said both the Onondaga County Health Department and Upstate Medical University will provide the medical resources and support to school districts as needed for administering the vaccine.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon announced on Monday that surveys provided by the county health department have been sent to every school district in the county.

Those surveys must be sent to parents and families in their respective district to gage interest and demand in the COVID-19 vaccine. Families in the East Syracuse Minoa school district received that survey on Friday, October 22, according to Dr. Desiato.

Onondaga County followed up with a survey that has now been sent to all parents of 5 to 11-year-olds. That survey when completed is going directly back to the county so that they’re able to determine the interest that parents may have and other information that’s needed in regard to locations, time of day and other important information that they’re gathering right now.

Dr. Donna Desiato, East Syracuse Minoa Central School District

Superintendent Tom Colabufo of Central Square schools also tells NewsChannel 9 that a plan is in place there to offer the vaccine to 5 to 11-year-olds.

The Oswego County Health Department, like last year, provided us with questions they want us to ask the parents with an interest survey.  If the interest is there, the health department will run a similar clinic for 5 and 11-year-olds.”

Tom Colabufo, Superintendent, Central Square School District

Colabufo said the survey provided by the Oswego County Health Department was sent to Central Square parents and families on Monday to gather interest.

When the Pfizer vaccine was approved for 12 to 18-year-olds, Central Square, in partnership with the Oswego County Health Department, hosted a vaccine clinic at the high school.

The question for Colabufo and his administration now is how to make the vaccine clinic accessible for everyone.

“For our elementary students, we’re going to have to be creative because the county spans over 200 square miles, so would have to set a few of these up. It would take into consideration the distance parents would have to travel because even though it’s in our district, it would still be very far for one location clinic.”

Tom Colabufo, Superintendent, Central Square School District

Because the Oswego County Health Department tasked all school districts in the county to send surveys to parents and families, Central Square’s vaccine clinic will only be open to students and families in the district whereas East Syracuse Minoa plans on having their vaccine clinic open to any 5 to 11-year-old who needs the shot.

In Onondaga County, County Executive Ryan McMahon announced the county is planning to host a vaccine clinic for the younger children at The Oncenter in Syracuse if school districts can’t host a clinic on school property.

Parents will need to be on-site with their children when they receive the COVID-19 vaccine, a requirement that was not in place for 12-18-year-olds.

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