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LAUSD And County Health Department Advance Plan To Distribute Vaccines At School Sites

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A dose of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Vaccines for COVID-19 are expected to be distributed at several Los Angeles Unified School District campuses starting in February, L.A. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced this week at a county Board of Supervisors meeting.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner has been pushing the Health Department to take his district up on its offer to use school health centers and licensed clinicians to administer the vaccines, once more doses become more available.

“While supply may be today’s problem, tomorrow’s will become access and trust,” Beutner told the supervisors.

Now, it seems, a plan is coming together. Ferrer says that within weeks, LAUSD will start being factored into the weekly allocation of vaccines. So far, 11 campuses across the county have been identified as possible sites to vaccinate residents 65 years or older.

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Those schools selected already run federally licensed health clinics that typically immunize students against measles and polio, for example. Under the proposed plan, those school clinicians would be trained to administer the COVID-19 vaccines, instead of LAUSD depending on county staff.

“We’re making sure right now that our employees can get the training and sign-off needed to do it,” LAUSD Board of Education Vice President Nick Melvoin told LAist. “We’re lucky that we have the school-based health staff so that we can be part of the solution, and not pull staff away from other sites.”

The L.A. Health Department has also identified dozens of other LAUSD schools that could be used as expansion sites to vaccinate teachers, school staff, and the general public later this year. Melvoin is hopeful LAUSD employees will be prioritized, but those decisions will ultimately be decided by the state and county.

Melvoin says that so far, families have been supportive of the distribution plan. “A lot of parents see this as part of the solution to get their kids back (to school),” he said.

Ferrer said her department polled local school districts in the L.A. area and found 20 that are open to distributing vaccines on their campuses. The county is also looking to partner with local private schools.

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