January 20, 2022

Counties keep vaccinating

Kevin Conlon/city editor

Jordan Ashley, the director of instruction, equity and instructional personnel for the Cortland Enlarged City School District, pets a dog Tuesday as he helps distribute COVID-19 testing kits in the district’s bus garage. The state provided one kit for each of the 2,000 students in the district, something it did for other districts in the greater Cortland area.

As greater Cortland area students returned to school this week after the holiday break, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 booster shots for children as young as 12 years old.

Boosters are already recommended for everyone 16 years and older, but the FDA announced Monday they are warranted for 12- to 15-year-olds and immunocompromised 5- to 11-year-olds who received their second dose at least five months ago.

In an effort to get the younger age groups vaccinated against the virus this fall, Cortland County school superintendents and Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services worked with Kinney Drugs to provide no-cost COVID-19 vaccination clinics for students.

“We had a decent turnout, but would have loved to have more families and students take advantage of this opportunity,” said OCM-BOCES District Superintendent Matt Cook. “We would assist the county in any way we can to run additional clinics if they are needed and would be well attended.”

Homer Central School District Superintendent Thomas Turck said he looks to continue the partnership to offer booster clinics moving forward as the opportunity arises. For now, the district organized drive-through COVID-19 test kit distribution for students’ families from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and today at the Homer High School pillar entrance.

Similar test kits were distributed Tuesday by the Cortland Enlarged City School District.

In Tompkins County, 5- to 11-year-olds who received their first dose of the vaccine last month can get their second dose at pop-up vaccination clinics later this week.

“Our youth vaccination clinics have been a great success,” said Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. The health department awaits further guidance from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state’s Department of Health before moving forward with the pediatric booster doses.

State data show that 46.9% of Tompkins County’s 5-to-11 age group and 82.2% of the 12to-17 group have received their first and second doses. In Cortland County, 17.9% of the 5-to11 age group and 51.4% of the 12-to-17 group have completed their vaccine series.

“It is important for all of us to play a role in stopping the spread of COVID and its variants and ending this pandemic,” Kruppa said. “The vaccine is one of the most important tools to achieve this goal.”

People who are not yet vaccinated but want to make an appointment can contact their healthcare provider or local pharmacy.

“I would just encourage everyone to get their vaccination as they’re able to,” said Cincinnatus Central School District Superintendent Todd Freeman.

Parents who have questions or concerns about vaccinating their children are encouraged to speak with their pediatrician or family doctor, Kruppa said.

Looking at it from an education perspective, Cook said vaccinations seem to be helping stop the spread within the schools.

“I would always advise parents to speak with their child’s healthcare provider about medical decisions,” Cook said. “Having said that, if they are comfortable to have their child get the vaccine, that does seem to be helpful in slowing down the spread and keeping kids in school and parents at work.”

Cook said OCM BOCES will continue to follow recommendations by the state and county health departments.

“Everyone is doing the best they can to sort through a lot of information that changes as our understanding of this disease changes,” Cook said. “Our goal is to have as many students be able to attend in-person instruction as possible. I believe it’s the best modality of instruction for most students, especially when considering their social and emotional needs.”

Clinic in Truxton

  • Pop-up vaccination clinics will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Truxton Academy Charter School.
  • The Cortland Transit bus will run a route to and from the clinic from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., with pick-up and dropoff spots at the Cortland County Office Building, McGraw Elementary School and the Cincinnatus JuniorSenior High School.
  • To schedule an appointment, go to https://tinyurl.com/2p8fym2f  or call 607-345-1184. Walk-ins are welcome, but must complete registration upon arrival.