Michigan Schools Roll Out Vaccination Plans for 5- to 11-Year-Old Students

School districts are opening clinics in schools to get elementary-aged students vaccinated against COVID-19, following the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds.

Michigan schools are making plans to start vaccinating elementary-age students as early as this week.

Oakland Schools has partnered with the county health department to open pediatric COVID clinics in several schools. Students aged 5 to 18 can also get vaccinated at any community clinic in Oakland County. Appointments are required and children under 18 must be escorted by an adult.

Parents of students in the Detroit Public Schools Community District can now make appointments at city health department clinics or at clinics the district plans to open in school buildings on weekends.

DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the district may also create weekday clinics but wants to make sure it accommodates parent schedules.

Vitti says vaccinating younger children means the children are safer, their families are safer and the school community is safer.

“But in the context of learning, it allows the learning process to return to normalcy,” says Vitti.

He says having students vaccinated means less need for quarantine. More than 3,000 DPSCD students and 160 staff have been quarantined. Vitti says there have been 9 outbreaks in the district, but the district finds more positive cases because it tests students and staff each week.

Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick says the students who can be vaccinated now that Pfizer’s vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds has been authorized for emergency use represent about half of the district’s 5,000 students.

“We know vaccinations are an individual decision,” Fitzpatrick says. “But we also know that as we get back to gathering in large groups and our students are within our school walls and participating in activities, those who are vaccinated have that additional layer of protection.”

State officials estimated last week that more than 450 children between the ages of 5 and 11 are being infected with COVID each day.  CDC officials calculated that for every 500,000 children vaccinated, between 18,000 and 58,000 COVID-19 cases — and between 80 and 226 hospitalizations — in that age group would be prevented, depending on the pandemic’s trajectory. 

The 5 to 11-year-olds will receive two low doses, three weeks apart, of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech — the same schedule as everyone else, but using a smaller needle.

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  • Sascha Raiyn

    Sascha Raiyn is Education Reporter at 101.9 WDET. She is a native Detroiter who grew up listening to news and music programming on Detroit Public Radio.