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L.A. School District Opens 25 Vaccination Centers

  • School-based vaccination centers are opening in Los Angeles in an effort to draw as many students as possible back to in-school learning. 

    The aim is to get students’ families vaccinated so fears of the virus traveling home from school will be minimized. 

    “Many families who have chosen to remain in online instruction tell us their primary concern is that their child might go to school and, however remote the possibility, bring the virus home to a family member in a multigenerational household,” Los Angeles Schools Superintendent Austin Beutner said in an update on school reopening plans. 

    School-based vaccination efforts in neighborhoods hard-hit by COVID-19 will help “address the issue of vaccine access.”  

    Barriers include lack of access to technology, lack of time or inability to find an appointment and lack of transportation. Providing vaccinations for families with children in school “is the single most important thing we can do to get more children back in school classrooms,” he said. 

    Beutner noted that schools are in regular contact with families and are a trusted community partner.

    Opportunity gaps for students from families of lesser means “will only worsen if they’re not back in schools with their peers from more affluent neighborhoods,” he said.

    The 25 school-based vaccination sites will include a community health partner in the effort, where possible.

    Ron Herrera, president of one of the partners, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said his union was eager to help ensure the vaccine “is accessible to all in our school communities and especially for those at higher risk,” according to a district news release.

    “Our efforts should be focused on equitable vaccine distribution and economic relief for struggling working families,” he said.

    Federal, state and county health authorities made commitments to ensure an adequate dosage supply.

    Last summer the district created a school-based COVID-19 testing program in partnership with regional medical partners as well as Microsoft, which built the software to schedule tests. In the months since, more than 600,000 free tests have been given to students, staff and their families at neighborhood schools in Los Angeles, and students and staff must be tested the week before they return to campus this spring. 

    Beutner characterized the school-based vaccine centers as being part of the “safety net” the district created to help families cope during the pandemic. The effort has included providing computers and internet access for a half million students, about 120 million meals and an estimated 26 million items, including masks, hand sanitizers, diapers, baby wipes, clothing, shoes, toys, sports equipment, books and school supplies.