Central Texas school districts push to get eligible students vaccinated weeks before school starts


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted masks requirements for students and teachers who are vaccinated.

It’s a push to get all students in the classroom in about a month, however, students who are unvaccinated are still encouraged to wear a mask while inside.

Meanwhile, Central Texas school districts are making a push to get students vaccinated in the weeks before school starts.

Right now, only children ages 12 to 17 are eligible to receive the vaccine. This is a concern for many parents whose kids aren’t yet eligible and in school districts that no longer offer a virtual learning option.

“We want them to go back to school, but we want to wait until they get vaccinated,” said a concerned Pflugerville ISD grandmother. “There is no vaccine for the elementary-aged kids, and that is our concern.”

This begs the question: when might authorization come for children younger than 12 years old? A Texas Medical Association COVID-19 task force member told KXAN she doesn’t have a crystal ball to see what the CDC is thinking, but discussions are being had.

“There’s some discussions that it may go down to 9 to start,” said Valerie Smith, a physician at St. Paul Children’s Clinic in Tyler. “I also don’t have information if that’s going to happen imminently.”

In Texas, vaccinations for children ages 12 to 17 have leveled off, according to Smith — a scenario playing out in Williamson County. The Williamson County and Cities Health District said it has only seen 41% of people ages 12 to 17 receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“The 12 to 17 year olds right now in the county have about a 30% vaccine rate…. If we count the people who have started the series, then we’re looking at about 41%. That is subpar for what we’re really looking for,” said Allison Stewart, WCCHD lead epidemiologist. “In all age ranges, I’m looking for something around 80%. The higher the better.”

It’s the reason Round Rock, Leander and Austin ISDs are making last-minute pushes to vaccinate children.

Round Rock ISD said it plans to hold a vaccine clinic at toward the end of July and are working with local health care partners. Details on these clinics will be announced later, according to RRISD.

Leander ISD said it’s held three clinics since vaccines opened up to ages 12 to 17 and plan to hold afterschool mass vaccine clinics when the vaccine is authorized for children younger than 12.

Austin ISD is holding a clinic on July 15 from 3 to 7 p.m. at LBJ Early College High School (7309 Lazy Creek Drive).

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