Students line up at Plattsburgh vaccine clinics

FERNANDO ALBA/Staff Photo Plattsburgh resident Kalika Chriss receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Stafford Middle School in Plattsburgh Saturday. More than 300 doses, including newly eligible boosters for adults 18 and older and newer pediatric doses, were administered between clinics at the middle school and the Ted K. Center Saturday. 

PLATTSBURGH — More than a hundred children, aged 5 through 11, received their first doses of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine at pop-up clinics at Stafford Middle School and the Ted K. Center Saturday.

The two Point of Delivery clinics were the result of a partnership between the New York State Department of Health, the Plattsburgh Housing Authority and the Plattsburgh City School District.

In total, both clinics administered 201 doses for ages 12 and up and 124 pediatric doses.

EFFORTS TO PROTECT

“Those students — most but not all of whom are Plattsburgh Hornets — showed both bravery and community-mindedness,” Plattsburgh City School District Superintendent Jay Lebrun said of those who received the pediatric doses Saturday, “and their efforts will help to protect their family members, their classmates, and themselves.”

Lebrun said the state-run vaccination site by the Plattsburgh International Airport met much of the community’s needs at the time.

“However, with that site closed, and with individuals 18 and older now eligible for boosters, and children aged 5-11 now eligible for an initial dose, vaccination demand appears to be growing,” Lebrun said.

Lebrun said school leaders have accepted that broad vaccination is the best strategy for avoiding quarantines and keeping schools open.

“Our plan and hope had been to host a vaccination clinic as soon as possible after the approval of the pediatric vaccine,” Lebrun said, “and we believe the timing of [Saturday’s] clinics was very good.”

JUMPED ON OPPORTUNITY

Weeks ago, around the time when vaccine eligibility broadened to 12 and up, Plattsburgh Housing Authority Director Mark Hamilton said he was contacted by the state’s Department of Health and Plattsburgh’s National Alliance on Mental Illness about setting up a POD clinic at the Ted K. Center.

“We immediately jumped on it and said absolutely. Any time we can bring that sort of thing to our residents at the Housing Authority and to the community around the south end of the city, it’s great,” Hamilton said.

When planning started for the PODs, Hamilton said he wanted to get the city’s school district involved.

“I think the community understands that it’s important for school-aged children to get vaccinated to keep schools open and to be more normal in that school routine,” he said.

“But it’s also a place the community is more familiar with and comfortable with. So rather than trying to point people to the Housing Authority, it seemed more logical to get a bigger, already familiar location.”

FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE

The plan now, Hamilton said, is for a second set of PODs to be hosted on Dec. 11 for anyone who needs a second dose to receive one. First doses would likely continue to be offered in the second set of clinics, but Hamilton said he’s not sure if more PODs would be scheduled after that.

Hamilton said offering PODs gives residents more options in availability for receiving doses and boosters.

“There are a lot of families with children, and they’ve got sports or music or some after school event, and so schedules are really flexible. I think PODs like this allow for people, when it’s convenient, to get there, do it and be done with it,” he said.

FLU SHOTS

Wanda Colgan, who was one of five registered nurses administering doses at Stafford Middle School Saturday, said it was mostly busy throughout the day and that nurses ran out of adult Pfizer doses a few hours before closing.

She also said many were asking for flu shots but weren’t available. But with the coming holiday season, she said it’s not a bad idea to get one.

“I personally say get your immunizations, get your flu shots too,” Colgan said. “Just because we have to wear masks doesn’t mean we don’t need our flu shots too.”

Email Fernando Alba:

falba@pressrepublican.com 

Twitter: @byfernandoalba

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