State health officials seek to help Indiana schools with COVID-19 vaccinations, testing

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana State Department of Health wants to help schools offer COVID-19 vaccinations and testing to students.

Children age 12 and older are currently eligible to get vaccinated.

The state health department has sent a survey to school districts about testing and the vaccine, according to Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer.

“Once we get those results, we will review them and determine how best we can help schools with testing and vaccination efforts,” Dr. Weaver said.

During a Friday news conference, Dr. Weaver said she hopes schools welcome their help.

“We all want this coming school year to look more normal than it has in the last 16 months,” she said. “But we also want schools to remember that COVID-19 is a communicable disease.”

It’s up to each school district to decide whether they’ll offer COVID-19 vaccinations or testing on site.

Vaccinations would not be administered without parents’ consent, Dr. Weaver said.

“In our community that’s a small town, fairly rural, we know that accessibility can be an issue,” said Mary Roberson, superintendent of Sheridan Community Schools.

The Sheridan school district is working with Hamilton County’s health department to offer after-school vaccine clinics, Roberson said. The district’s first clinic will be held Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Sheridan High School.

“It will not be required of students,” she added. “So we want to make sure that that perception is not there.”

But some other districts do not have plans to offer COVID-19 vaccinations on campus.

Laura Hammack said for her district, Beech Grove City Schools, she believes it’s not the best use of resources.

“When we did an analysis of the resources that are available in the community, we were actually pretty impressed by the number of facilities that are already offering vaccinations and testing,” Hammack said.

The state has not given a timeline for when officials may help offer vaccinations and testing at schools.

During the pandemic, Indiana has seen a 20% decline in routine vaccinations among younger children, and that number is higher for older kids, Dr. Weaver said.

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