Education Spotlight: Vaccine campaign aims to get students back in schools

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In ABC30's segment, Education Spotlight, Action News Anchor Landon Burke will talk with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) officials about some of the biggest topics in education.

Merced County is launching a new campaign to increase vaccinations across the board.

Landon Burke spoke with county leaders about how vaccines are crucial to getting kids back in school.

Landon: You have been working to get a number of vaccination clinics up and running in local high schools and health care centers... tell me about what kind of work went into that?

Steve: So what we've been doing here in Merced County is working with all 20 districts to make sure that we are able to provide vaccines right on high school campuses, if all the appropriate permission slips are signed by parents. So we really believe that the best way to get kids back in school is to have as many students vaccinated as possible and, of course, their parents too.

Salvador: We've seen that if you make it easier for people to get the vaccines, answer the questions simply and directly that they're more likely to do it. There's a natural hesitancy on something new, especially like this, the vaccine for this pandemic. Once people saw that people were tolerating it well... it increased its use among staff in the schools, and the testing that's been done by the CDC, I think, has been exemplary. I think you're expanding the 12 to 15 age group and now looking beyond that too.

Landon: Now, Dr. Tietjen, you said that part of your guys' goal is to vaccinate students and their families. Talk to me a little bit more about why it's important to get the entire household vaccinated?

Steve: Well, really, to get to herd immunity here in Merced County, we have to get a lot more adults vaccinated right now. We're in the high 20% range of total vaccinations in Merced County, which is lower than other places in the state. And so I know that our parents want their children back in school. That's been the focus of the entire year. Kids have lost so much they've lost academic growth, they've lost relationships, they feel isolated, and they've lost a lot of confidence. And so we need to get these kids back in school, and for that to be a successful effort, as many people as possible need to be vaccinated so we can get to what's being called herd immunity.

Salvador: What we've noticed is that the children that have gotten COVID generally gotten it from their family, especially the adults or older siblings. So that's part of the reason that's very important that the family members be vaccinated in addition.

Steve: While the disease rates are going down, it weathers right now on our side. We've got a lot of good things going for us. Let's not lose sight of the fact that there could be another surge. We don't want that to happen in Merced County. We want to make sure that we do everything we can to prepare for the fall.
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