California Educator

June/July 2021

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O N M A Y 12 , California children ages 12-15 became eligible for vaccinations against the coronavirus, following FDA authorization and studies showing the Pfizer vaccine's efficacy in that age group. Dr. Naomi Bardach leads the Safe Schools for All Team for the California Health and Human Services Agency and is overseeing the rollout. She shared what her team has planned. Vaccination will not be required to return to school, but do you recommend that 12- to 15-year-olds get their shots now? We're encouraging them to get vacci- nated this summer for the safety of all students and to help end the pandemic. Will you have guidance for educators and schools that they can relay to parents and guardians? Yes, we'll have informational materials and messaging about how the vac- cine is effective and safe for parents, educators and teens. For the latest on vaccinations for students, go to Educators can also find resources and tools at Will students and educators still need to wear masks and other PPE, and socially distance in classrooms and other spaces on campus? We are actively discussing this within our state and with others nationally. We know that elementary school students and younger will represent the largest group of unvaccinated people at the start of the new school year, so the guidance will reflect the understanding that many schools will have a mixed population of vaccinated and unvacci- nated students. The goal is to support safe, full in-person instruction for all students in the coming year. Schools are work- places as well as educational settings, and Cal/OSHA regulations oversee workplaces, so the guidance will align with the Cal/OSHA standards. What about students with special needs — is it more important for them to be vaccinated? We know that students and children who are at higher risk of having more severe disease with COVID tend to be those who have medical problems that they were born with or that are severe. So we know it will be important and beneficial for these children to get the vaccine — in discussion with their reg- ular doctors. Will vaccinated students still get regular testing? The science suggests moving away from ongoing screening testing for all vaccinated people. But these discus- sions are underway. Is there a plan to set up vaccination clinics in underserved communities? Right now, in 13 counties most dispro- portionately affected by COVID-19, we are already working with schools to set up sites and making sure local health jurisdictions and health officers are in partnership with those schools and communities. We have heard from peo- ple that having trusted sites including schools, which are a convenient place where you can bring your whole family, is great for vaccinations. [Note: Los Angeles Unified School District began offering vaccinations for ages 12-15 on school sites in late May.] The state and the governor 's office are very mindful about this important equity piece around vaccinations, that communities disproportionately impacted by COVID get easy access to the vaccines and are supported to do it. Do 12- to 15-year-olds need parent/guardian consent before getting the vaccine? Yes, those younger than 18 need consent unless they are emancipated minors. Each place might be a little different about how they do consent. California has guidance that says you can do in-person consent, fill out a written consent form, or do a phone call or even a video platform like Face- Time — and an older kid can go with that piece of paper and another trusted adult to get a shot. But each local place might have different requirements. A Shot in the Arm Naomi Bardach explains why kids ages 12-15 can and should get vaccinated The Pfizer Study More than 2,200 participants ages 12-15 participated in Pfizer 's Phase 3 clinical trial in the U.S. About half got the real vaccine; others received placebos. The shot was found to be 100 percent effective against getting COVID-19. "We have heard from people that having trusted sites including schools, which are a convenient place where you can bring your whole family, is great for vaccinations." 13 J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 21 Spotlight

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