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School districts, health officials push to make vaccines more available among teens

Several school districts across the state are offering COVID-19 vaccine clinics during school hours to make it more accessible for students.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As vaccination numbers slowly increase day by day, there's been a recent age group health officials are honing in on to become better protected. 

With school in full swing and the delta variant affecting some of the youngest, making sure teenagers are protected has never been more important, according to Dr. Joel Tumlison with the Arkansas Department of Health.

"It is notable. The number, the increase in cases within this age group and minors, 18 and below," he said.

That number, according to Tumlison, is making up an increasingly larger proportion of the total number of cases in the state.

"Some of that is because those under the age of 12 are unable to get vaccinated, but children 12-18 have been able to since May. So, we definitely want them to get vaccinated," he said.

To try and make the vaccine is as accessible for kids as it can be, districts are hosting clinics at schools and football games.

Friday night, Sept. 3. vaccines will be offered at the Prescott v. Gurdon game, Osceola v. Blytheville game, and Wynne v. West Memphis game.

According to Pulaski County Special School District's Communications Director Jessica Duff, the district will be offering the shots at each of their four middle schools the week of Sept. 13 from 3- 6 p.m.

"If we can provide the opportunity to the parents to just have it done while they're at school, just like your typical flu shot would be then why not," she said.

Duff said the district hopes with there now being more knowledge about the vaccine, there will be less hesitant students and parents. 

"The student vaccination rates at the clinics we've held have not been as high as we want," she said.

By having the clinic at the middle school, Duff said the district hopes it will solve any transportation issues families may have.

It's the same reason Lakeside School District nurse, Kelly Orr, said they're hosting a vaccine clinic at their high school on Friday morning.

"It's just easily available. They get to go back to class, they don't have to miss class, and it takes the load off the parents as far as logistics," she said.

Both Duff and Orr said with more kids protected, it means less possible cases and fewer chances for students having to quarantine.

"That's a huge high point for us to be able to keep the kids in the classroom, if they are vaccinated," Duff said.

"Healthy kids learn better, they thrive better and I think this is just a part of overall being healthy," Orr said.

Lakeside School District's vaccine clinic is Friday, Sept. 3, at the high school safe room. It will be from 8:30-10:30 a.m.

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