The first COVID vaccination clinic for students in local high schools was met with protests today.
Parents and others concerned about teens getting the shot demonstrated outside Bend Senior High School, shouting at kids as they made their way to classes this morning.
Despite that, more than 170 students chose to get the shot.
“We are out here because we don’t agree with having vaccine clinics at school where parents are not here to give consent,” said Jonna Girod, a concerned parent. “I know here in Oregon 15 years old is the age to give consent but that’s for an FDA approved drug or biologic and this is still an experimental vaccine.”
Inside Bend High today, a first for Oregon…a free COVID vaccination clinic for high school students age 16 and up…one of the fastest-growing age groups for the virus.
“Students are busy. They have school. They have sports. They have jobs,” said Ellie Millan, a PNP and Mosaic Medical Pediatrics Clinical Medical Director. “They may not have time to get out to the fairgrounds and we know the clinic at the fairgrounds is ending soon so this was opportunity to bring the opportunity to vaccinate here to their own schools.”
The High School COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics project is designed to reduce barriers to vaccine accessibility among youth while building healthier communities.
Physicians with Mosaic Medical administered the vaccines.
The program started Thursday at Bend High with teens getting their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The clinics will be at all the local high schools over the next couple of weeks.
Some parents showed up to voice their opposition to the clinics.
“Children 15 or older can make the decision without their parents to get the vaccine. As teenagers, they just don’t know,” said Jennifer Richlick, parent of a Bend High student. “The last 18 months of our lives have been scary, so they are unsure. There’s peer pressure in school. We just don’t feel that this is okay.”
Suzanne Mendez, Director of Pediatrics at St. Charles, says she’s seen the worst cases of COVID in children, ranging in age from infants to 18-year olds.
“We’ve personally had to life flight out at least four kids for the life-threatening complication, it’s a very complicated name, multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, which can be lethal. There’s been about 30 cases statewide which, out of 800,000 kids, is much higher than any risk of any vaccine,” Mendez said.
Each high school will host two clinics before the end of the school year, allowing students who choose to participate to be fully vaccinated before summer.
“Kids are at such a low risk for issues with COVID. For a lot of them, it’s just like having a cold or they don’t even have symptoms,” Girod said. “I don’t think it’s necessary for children to get a vaccine.”
“COPA is in full support of this vaccine clinic,” said Logan Clausen, Central Oregon Pediatrics Chief Medical Officer. “We think it is fantastic to give patients as many opportunities to get a vaccine if they choose. We want to make it easy, accessible, and have the most chances for people to make that choice.”
Protestors say they’ll show up at all the school vaccination clinics.
- Bend Senior High School: April 29 and May 20
- La Pine High School: May 6 and May 27
- Mountain View High School: May 4 and May 25
- Crook County High School: May 4 and May 25
- Summit High School: May 6 and May 27
- Redmond High School: May 7 and May 26
- Ridgeview High School: May 11 and June 1
- Sisters High School: May 13 and June 3
- Madras High School: Completed in April
Students from area private schools, alternative learning options and charter schools will be invited to attend the clinic nearest to their school location.