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Watauga County Schools Head Nurse Shelly Klutz administers a COVID-19 vaccine to WHS student Finley Hodges as a past vaccine clinic. WHS HOSA student Riley Alderson was one of a group of students helping to facilitate the clinic.

WATAUGA — Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott is feeling encouraged that vaccines will soon be available to all school-aged children.

“I continue to support and promote vaccines and have seen their effectiveness first-hand in our schools,” Elliott said. “We have seen a decline in both the number of cases and the severity of illnesses as more students and school staff members have become vaccinated. I encourage parents to speak with their medical providers and do their own research using credible medical sources to become as informed as possible in making their decision.”

On Oct. 29, the U.S. Food and Drug authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 to include children 5 through 11 years of age on Oct. 29.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will Nov. 3 to discuss further clinical recommendations.

Once formal approval is granted by the CDC, Elliott said WCS is collaborating with Blue Ridge Pediatrics and AppHealthCare to plan two initial countywide clinics for our students once formal approval is granted. He said those clinics will be held most likely the second week of November.

Students who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they come into contact with someone who tests positive. So far this school year as of Oct. 27, Elliott said 1,574 students have come in close contact to a positive person either at school or outside of school. Of those, 868 did not have to quarantine either because they were wearing masks or because they were vaccinated.

“As more students become vaccinated, not only will fewer students get sick or seriously ill, but more students will get to be in school and out of quarantine,” Elliott said.

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