Angel Macias, a seventh-grade student at San Fernando Middle School, claimed he was not nervous — “not really” — about receiving his first vaccination shot against the COVID-19 virus.
It was a bit hard to tell how accurate the declaration was, considering the 12-year-old’s face mask nearly came up to his eyes, and his eyes were shut the entire time he received his dose of the Pfizer vaccine from LVN Tracy Jones.
“It was easier to get it here (at school),” Macias said afterward, adding that he would “probably” now tell friends who are not yet vaccinated “to get it.”
Another student, Kathlene Balta, 12, did say she felt some nerves before taking her shot. “But I feel safer now,” the seventh grader said, after receiving her shot.
San Fernando Middle School was one of three sites where the Los Angeles Unified School District began dispatching mobile teams to perform on-site vaccinations for the first time on Monday, Aug. 30 to continue — officials hope — fully vaccinating students age 12 and older, and all mandated LAUSD employees against COVID-19, and its highly contagious Delta variant.
LAUSD interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly — who visited the middle school, in addition to the other sites at Eagle Rock High School and Wilson High School in Los Angeles on Monday — said 12 mobile teams would be sent to “every middle school and high school” on a rotational basis.
“It will be every middle and high school, wherever eligibility is,” Reilly said. “That was our concept right off the bat.”
Unlike previous district-sponsored vaccination clinics that were open to the public, these mobile clinics are specifically for students and employees only. And the clinic at San Fernando Middle School was only for that day.
A district spokesperson said on Tuesday, Aug. 31, that no announcements regarding when the next clinics will take place, and at what schools, would be made at this time.
The school-based mobile vaccine program is one of several LAUSD strategies to counter the recent spike of new COVID-19 cases countywide. Reilly said the district waited until after its schools reopened on Aug. 16, including in-person instruction, to announce and begin the mobile team vaccinations.
“We wanted to make sure in Week One and Week Two that it was all about opening schools safely. So we wanted to wait until things settled down with that before this initiative. But we had been planning this all throughout the summer,” Reilly said.
Those with appointments for the vaccinations on Monday entered the school gymnasium, where contracted medical personnel and school officials compared their names against those on the appointment list before they were sent to one of the two vaccine “stations.”
Five persons — three of them students — were vaccinated during the 45 minutes the media was present.
The students, all age 12, had to be accompanied by an adult to receive the vaccination. (Students ages 16 or older can be accompanied by an adult or bring a signed consent form.) The youngsters here were supposed to be checked in through the district’s Daily Pass app — most commonly done on a cell phone. The Daily Pass app contains the student’s health status, and must be screened and approved every school day before said student can go to a class.
But none of the three youngsters were in the system. The students tried to register for the Daily Pass on-site with the help of LAUSD technicians, but the district’s website — which processes the health information given by the app, then authorizes entrance onto a campus — was balky and slow. Similar problems with the website occurred during the first week schools opened. At that time, students at some schools were kept waiting up to an hour before being able to enter.
The students and their families wound up filling out district paperwork to get the vaccinations. A district official said the information would be input later into the LAUSD computer system.
“(The delays today) are part of the bumps in the road we’ve been experiencing. Not all of our parents are English-speaking, and that can become a challenge with the technology,” said Pearl Arredondo, principal of the school’s Institute of Applied Media.
“The LAUSD is …. trying to make it more accessible and easy for parents to get to — that’s kind of the draw,” the principal said. “I think for us, most of our school is already vaccinated. We’re trying to catch those students who are just turning 12, but I think the majority of our students [are vaccinated].”
District employees are under a LAUSD mandate to be vaccinated (expect for medical or religious reasons, subject to approval) by Oct. 15. That’s why Angela Favela, who works at the middle school, decided to go ahead and made her appointment for that Monday.
“I think, more than anything, I was hesitant because I’m not a big fan of needles,” said Favela, 21. “I know how bad that sounds. But I was just worried when it first came out. I know there have been so many studies…and with any vaccine there has to be so much research that goes into it. I heard many people say, ‘don’t get it.’ But I kinda have to now.”
Appointments may be made through the district’s Daily Pass. To make an appointment or for information on when a vaccine team will visit a particular school, visit: https://achieve.lausd.net/covid.