P.E.I. junior high students can get COVID-19 vaccine at school this June

Starting in June, junior high students on P.E.I. can receive the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccines at in-school clinics run by public health nurses. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be offered to all 12 to 15 year olds in June

Hannah Duffy, 14, gets her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic held at her school in Etobicoke, Ont., this week. P.E.I. junior high schools will offer students the vaccine in June. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Starting in June, junior high students on P.E.I. can receive the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccines at in-school clinics run by public health nurses. 

Students need a consent form signed by a parent or guardian before receiving the Pfizer vaccine, the only one approved by Health Canada for use in the 12-15 age group. 

"We're going to send some information home so parents can make informed decisions on their own," said George Trevor, principal at Stonepark Intermediate in Charlottetown.

"And whether or not they give consent is completely up to them."

Stonepark Intermediate principal George Trevor said it will be up to parents whether they sign the consent form for their child to receive the vaccine. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

That information should go home to parents next week, said Trevor, and the vaccine clinics will start at Stonepark the week of June 7, with each grade likely getting vaccinated on separate days. 

Trevor said it makes sense for students to receive the vaccine at school. 

"This is a place where students already are out there, not having to go somewhere else and interact with different people." 

Sheri St. Denis said her son, who is in Grade 7 at Stonepark, is ‘eager’ to receive the vaccine. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Sheri St. Denis, whose son is in Grade 7 at Stonepark, said she feels confident about the data she's received about the vaccine. 

"As a parent, I just feel more comfortable knowing that he's safe and he's vaccinated," said St. Denis. 

"Just having that peace of mind basically to know that he's going to be OK."

St. Denis and her son both have asthma. She has already received the Pfizer vaccine. 

"With the data that's come out and the many people that have received it so far, you know, we definitely feel more confident than some of the other vaccine manufacturers."

Danny Callaghan, whose daughter is 12 years old and goes to Stonepark, said he was glad to hear about the in-school vaccine clinics. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Danny Calaghan's daughter is 12 years old and also goes to Stonepark. He said he was happy to hear about the in-school vaccines. 

"I'm all for trying to get herd immunity," said Callaghan.

"I trust the science … I [have] all the faith in the world in Dr. Morrison and Premier King." 

'Avoid a fourth wave'

The science behind young people and the vaccines shows that 12 to 19 year olds transmit COVID-19 at very similar rates to adults, said P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison. 

"It is important and I think we definitely don't want to see outbreaks in schools. We want to avoid a fourth wave of COVID in this province, in this country, in the fall," said Morrison. 

Stonepark principal Trevor said he doesn't see his role as promoting the vaccine, but rather simply supplying information. 

"I think public health has done a really good job here of informing families and doing their vaccine rollouts," he said. 

Trevor said he and the school community are looking forward to returning to "some level of normal.

"We've been very fortunate to have our children in school, but at the same time, we are recognizing there are a lot of added stresses to our day."

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With files from Steve Bruce