HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A line full of Henrico County families wrapped around Brookland Middle School as they waited to receive vaccinations before the first day of school on September 8.
Nurses with Henrico County Public Schools and the Virginia Department of Health administered vaccines for meningococcal, TDaP, HPV and COVID-19 during a vaccination clinic at the West End school Wednesday afternoon.
Dozens of parents and their children lined up before the doors opened at 2 p.m.
“At our last three events we’ve run out of COVID-19 shots,” said Robin Gilbert, the division's supervisor of student health services.
The county arranged the vaccination clinics away from doctor’s offices where students or their families could potentially contract the virus.
“With COVID and the surges that we’ve had, the doctor’s office has a lot of sick folks in them. We don’t want our healthy kids going into a sick environment. This is a safe place to come where people are healthy and being screened before they come in,” Gilbert explained.
According to VDH, nearly 40 percent of Virginia children ages 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated. Among older teens ages 16 and 17, that number jumps to more than 51 percent.
Health experts have worked to drive up the rates as students get ready to head back into the classroom.
“I think people are realizing the need to get vaccinated. It’s open to our kids 12 and up with school approaching, being in a middle of a surge with positive cases right now and our positivity going up parents want their kids to be safe while going back to school,” Gilbert said.
Myosha Jenkins and her four children were one of the first families in line.
“We did COVID and 6th-grade vaccinations” Jenkins stated. “For them going back to school, it’s a relief for me and it’s easier. But it’s even more of a relief because they’re one step closer to being vaccinated.”
Jenkins said she sees first-hand the devastation the coronavirus can bring to families as an employee working inside of a local hospital.
“Working in healthcare you see a lot as far as with COVID. A lot of people have died. I’ve seen a lot of people on breathing machines and all types of things due to COVID,” she recalled. “I wanted my family to be safe being that I work in that environment every day. When I come home, who knows what I can contract at work.”
If any Henrico student missed Wednesday’s vaccination opportunity, Gilbert said you can contact your child’s school who will then connect you to the proper resources.
The clinic was provided to families at no cost and an appointment was not required.
“If you’re not going to get vaccinated, I would strongly suggest that you wear a mask. I don’t care if you’re just going to a grocery store, wear a mask,” Jenkins urged families. “You could save somebody else’s life.”