Tarrant County

Tarrant County Leaders Coordinating With School Districts on Kids' COVID Vaccine Rollout

As approvals are underway, local leaders are planning ahead for a massive distribution effort

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What roles could schools potentially play when it comes to vaccinating kids? That was the discussion between Tarrant County school leaders.

We are now one step closer to approval of Pfizer's covid-19 vaccine for children ages five through 11.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel endorsed it on Tuesday and now it's up for final approval from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Local leaders are planning ahead for what's expected to be a massive distribution effort.

On Wednesday morning, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley spoke with about 20 school districts across the county about the role they will all play in the effort. He said officials bounced around a lot of ideas, hammering out a battle plan for parents who want to get their kids vaccinated.

"I'm excited about it because that puts us one step closer to having herd immunity,” said Judge Whitley. “It's having a much larger portion of our population vaccinated and maybe we can begin to see the end in sight."

Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner was also on the call Wednesday. The district is talking to city and county leaders on the collaboration of setting up drive-thru clinics.

"We want to make sure there are opportunities for any parent who chooses to have their child vaccinated that, that is happening," Dr. Scribner said. "We think that keeping our students in school, in person is the best place for them to be. We want to keep our schools safe with all the protocols of social distancing, good hand hygiene, keeping our schools clean, encouraging masks. Adding the layer of vaccinations will only help to keep our schools open."

Texas has already placed an order for 1.3 million doses for kids.

Judge Whitley said he was told the distribution will be spread out, with the first phase will involve about 450,000 vaccines.

Pediatric offices and pharmacies are on tap to be the main hubs for distribution.

During Wednesday morning’s meeting, school districts told Judge Whitley they could help pick out locations, offering traffic control and registration help for distribution events. The school districts would just need the county to coordinate with local EMS and medical workers to make that happen.

There was also discussion about kids getting the shots at schools with the help of school nurses, which the county said they could assist in by sending a team to help those nurses at particular schools.

Judge Whitley said school districts expressed interest in allowing flexibility for families in neighboring districts to get the vaccine outside of their own.

According to doctors, the vaccines for children are "kid-sized" doses, about a third the size of the adult doses. It comes in two shots with smaller needles.

If all of the approvals move forward in time, school districts told Judge Whitley they hope the first dose can happen before Thanksgiving break, which would allow perfect timing to get the second dose done before Christmas break.

We are now one step closer to approval of Pfizer's covid-19 vaccine for children ages five through 11.

Judge Whitley said next week, there will be another meeting involving Tarrant area cities and schools to finalize some of these details.

The state has also set aside money to the Texas Education Agency to assist with vaccine distribution. Judge Whitley said he has a meeting planned with regional TEA leaders to discuss it.