DOH-Pasco helping to boost vaccinations among youths

The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County announced a partnership with Pasco County Schools to provide free COVID-19 vaccinations to area children ages 12 and up.

According to a June 9 press release, free vaccinations will also be made available to children’s eligible family members. Pasco County students under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive the vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine will be available at several school locations around the county on June 21, 22 and 23, and appointments are required to ensure a smooth and efficient experience, the press release states. Registration can be completed online at pasco.k12.fl.us. An individual registration form must be completed for each student and additional family member receiving the vaccine.

Vaccinations on June 21 take place from 8 a.m. to noon in the Mitchell High cafeteria and from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the Anclote High media center. Second vaccinations at both locations will be July 12.

Vaccinations on June 22 take place from 8 a.m. to noon within the classrooms in the new building at Sunlake High and from 1:30-4:30 p.m. in the Fivay High cafeteria. Second vaccinations at both locations will be July 13.

Vaccinations on June 23 take place from 8 a.m. to noon in the Pasco High cafeteria and from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the Wiregrass Ranch High commons area. Second vaccinations at both locations will be July 14.

The initiative comes as vaccination rates throughout the state and country plateau. President Biden’s stated goal of having 70 percent of American adults injected with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by the Fourth of July may not be reached judging by the current vaccination rate, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Numbers reported by the Mayo Clinic show that the vaccination rate, at least one dose, among Americans under the age of 18 is below 10 percent.

The new effort by DOH-Pasco and the school district encourages parents and guardians not to wait to get children vaccinated prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year. The first day of school in Pasco County is Aug. 10. In order to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by that date, students must receive their first dose of Pfizer no later than July 6, less than a month away. This allows for three weeks between the first and second dose and then another two weeks to be fully immunized, the press release states.

The press release goes on to report that fully vaccinated students may be able to avoid being quarantined and excluded from the classroom due to exposure. This past school year, students in close contact with classmates or staff who tested positive for COVID-19 were required to quarantine at home for up to 14 days. The CDC states that if a fully vaccinated person has been around someone who has COVID-19, they are not required to stay away from others or get tested unless they have symptoms.

According to DOH-Pasco, the county vaccinated 242,721 people as of June 8. Of that total, 42,111 individuals received their first doses and 200,610 have completed their second doses. The seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate in Pasco as of June 9 was reported at 4.1 percent.

Other vaccine updates:

DOH-Pasco is no longer providing COVID-19 vaccinations at Gulf View Square Mall in Port Richey or Saint Leo University. Vaccination appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, at two DOH-Pasco clinic locations: 13941 15th St., Dade City, and 10841 Little Road, New Port Richey.

To schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination at a DOH-Pasco clinic, call 727-861-5260 and select Option 1 for Medical Services, then Option 2 for Immunizations.

DOH-Pasco is asking people with scheduled appointments to arrive no more than 15 minutes before their scheduled time. It is required to have a photo I.D. when checking in for all vaccination appointments.