By Gail H.M. Brown, Ph.D.,
“No! It didn’t hurt!” D’Anthony Ellis, a 7th-grader at Powell Midd
le School, Jackson, Miss., told The Mississippi Link.
Accompanied by his mother, Chandi Ellis, D’Anthony Ellis had just taken his first vaccination against the COVID-19 on the stage of the school.
The clinic: Harmony House Calls & Medical Services of Jackson, administered the vaccination.
“We are working in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Health, and they contacted us to let us know that they wanted us to be a part of the event,” said Stacia Dunson, CEO and nurse practitioner of Harmony House Calls & Medical Services. “Of course, we are big advocates for the community. So when we heard that we would be vaccinating children who also affect adults, our answer was, yes.”
The vaccination drive is part of a series of ongoing Jackson Public School District “strategic engagements” to fight the Coronavirus called, JPS COVID-19 Vaccination Blitz.
“I want to make sure that [my son] gets vaccinated so that if he does be around someone that has COVID that maybe if he does contract it, then it won’t be as serious as it is for those who are not vaccinated,” said Chandi Ellis. Ellis said she had already been vaccinated.
Dunson urges any skeptics to “listen to the science and not misinformation” and not naysayers.
This week (Aug. 8 and 9), JPS is collaborating with the State Department of Health, Harmony House Calls & Medical Services, Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and Delta Sigma Theta sorority to hold these drives at its middle schools. A number of them have already been held at the high school level.
“The vaccination clinics have proven successful,” said Amanda Thomas, JPS’ executive director of Climate and Wellness in an interview Wednesday morning (Aug. 8) with The Mississippi Link.
“During the first round of our most recent vaccination clinic, we had 201 students and/or staff receive the vaccine. During the second round, we had 227 students and/or staff receive the vaccine. Participants received the second dosage and some received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccination. Parents have been supportive of our efforts. These drives have been for students under the age of 18; so parental consent was granted,” Thomas explained.
Asked, what are some of the district’s future goals, plans, and safety measures to help keep its students and staff safe as it navigates through this heightened increase in COVID cases statewide, Thomas shared the following response:
“As we progress through this pandemic, we plan to continue our efforts to slow the spread of the virus by using multiple mitigation strategies. We plan to continue to promote vaccination. As a matter of fact, a vaccination blitz for middle schools is being held September 8 and 9. We will also continue to implement our universal mask mandate for students and staff. Buildings will be disinfected and ventilation will be checked and maintained. Students and staff will continue to practice social/physical distancing when feasible and we will encourage frequent handwashing and sanitizing. As an additional layer of prevention, unvaccinated student-athletes will undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. We are also proposing to have weekly testing for unvaccinated staff.”
In terms of what advice or encouragement would she give to any parents who still may not be sure about consenting for their children to be vaccinated, she said, “I would encourage parents to do their research. Look closely at the number of cases this variant is having on young people. Talk to physicians and trusted individuals to get the facts and make a decision based on the science, the facts – not opinions.”
According to Thomas, JPS has over 18,000 students enrolled. “As of yesterday, Sept. 7, we have had a total of 159 COVID-19 cases for students. 1,839 students have been quarantined. We have had a total of 31 positive COVID-19 cases for staff. Ninety-seven staff members have been quarantined.
DeAnthony Ellis’ advice to fellow students who might be afraid to get vaccinated is, “It didn’t hurt. They need to get vaccinated.” He repeated, “they need to get vaccinated.”