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New L.A. school vaccination sites to open for families of students in hard-hit communities

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Original article written by Betty Márquez Rosales for EdSource.

California’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, next week will open new vaccination sites designed to reach the families of students. The plan, a partnership with St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, is considered one way schools can increase access to vaccines for families in areas hard hit by the pandemic. The vaccines will be administered at two L.A. Unified schools in South and East L.A., both neighborhoods that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. As schools establish reopening dates and Covid-19 transmission rates subside, some families remain hesitant to send their children back to the classroom. For some, the hesitance stems from the fear of students transmitting the virus from the classroom to the home. “If we look at the patterns that we see, the communities that have been hardest hit by the virus are also least likely to be vaccinated. So it’s telling us, we’ve got to bring the vaccines closer to where these communities are, to utilize institutions they know and trust,” said Pedro Noguera, dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. “Wherever makes sense to administer it safely, we should consider it and schools are a very logical choice.” Noguera emphasizes that the key issue to making communities feel safer is access and tackling that issue includes making Covid-19 vaccines accessible to as many people as possible in the communities that have some of the highest infection rates.

L.A. Unified, the second-largest school district in the nation, has been operating eight vaccination sites for several weeks, with seven located on school grounds. Those sites, however, have been accessible only to educators and other school staff. The new vaccination sites will be open to people living in specific ZIP codes in South and East L.A., but people living in neighboring ZIP codes will not be turned away, Jim Mangia, president and CEO of the St. John’s Well Child & Family Center said. The goal is to provide wider access to vaccines in order to increase the confidence families have in sending their children back to school, “Mostly, we don’t see much vaccine hesitancy. It’s more the lack of vaccine access,” Mangia said. “And so that’s why I think this is so important because we’re now providing that access in communities that didn’t have it before.” The sites will begin administering at least 2,000 doses per week, or about 400 per day, Mangia said. The operating hours have not been finalized, but they will be open for evening and Saturday hours to provide access to people with long work hours or multiple jobs.

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