NEW ORLEANS — With another school year approaching, parents will soon be getting those back-to-school lists checked off. Medical leaders say at the top of those lists, should be the COVID vaccine.
We want to stop this disease process,” said Dr. Jeffrey Elder, Medical Director for Emergency Management at LCMC.
Dr. Elder says vaccines will determine the lesson plan on safety inside the classroom. The CDC recommends students 12 and older get vaccinated. Because of how long it takes for a two-dose series to become effective, Elder says now is the time to begin that process.
“You want to get them vaccinated now so that way by the time they start school, they’re fully vaccinated,” said Elder.
Friday morning, a group of students from St. Augustine High School in New Orleans made sure to start that process, getting the first round of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Our students are taking the initiative, getting vaccinated so that we can have a good school year,” said Kendall Crawford, manager of strategic initiatives and student affairs.
The students range in age from 13 to 18. Crawford says being a predominately African American school makes that initiative even more important.
“Being vaccinated opens up so many more opportunities school wise and community wise,” said Crawford.
“That’s how we’re going to slow this transmission. That’s how we’re going to stop having other variants come across and develop and that’s how we’re going to keep people out of the hospital,” said Elder.
Elder says having too many unvaccinated students in one classroom, could easily lead to clusters of cases of COVID. That’s exactly what happened last Fall when some schools began to allow students back inside the classroom. The state department of health noticed slow increases in outbreaks.
“We want to see kids back in school and we can do that safely,” said Elder.
Elder says the current delta variant accounts for more than 50 percent of COVID cases across the country and is more transmissible. While kids typically fair well with COVID, Elder says what happens inside the classroom, doesn’t necessarily stay there.
“They can spread the virus to other adults, and we don’t’ want to see that happen either. They can then spread out to their families, especially if people are not vaccinated,” said Elder.
For school districts ready to open the school doors, the CDC recommends masks for students and teachers who are not fully vaccinated, at least three feet of distance between students inside the classroom and an emphasis on handwashing and sanitation.