CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is on, and Charleston County schools are getting ready for the moment one is approved. The school district hired a vaccination nurse who started Tuesday.
“Once we have a COVID-19 vaccine that’s available for children, she’ll be able to give that vaccination to students with parental consent,” School Board Vice Chair Kate Darby said.
The school board approved within the budget cycle to fund this nurse, Chief Operating Officer Jeff Borowy said. Her primary role will be to get students up to date on common vaccinations through the federal program Vaccines for Children.
“We are the first district, we believe the first district, in the nation under this federal program in which we receive vaccines from the federal government, and we have the ability to deliver those vaccines,” Borowy said. “Right now with COVID, we’re pretty sure that some families have said, ‘I’m going to hold off getting my kid in a hospital to get those vaccinations.’”
The vaccines will be funded by the federal government while the nurse will be funded by the district. The children eligible for the vaccines are those who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of an inability to pay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s going to allow us to have a vaccination nurse in school making sure kids are getting vaccinations on time," Darby said.
The nurse will be based out of Mary Ford Early Learning and Family Center, and she’ll be starting with seventh graders. That grade has been deemed to have the most students without vaccinations countywide, Darby added.
It’s still unclear who in the district will be prioritized for a COVID-19 vaccine, once approved, and how it will get here. There’s also been no board discussions yet about once it’s widely available if it’ll be required for students going to school.
“I haven’t heard anything specific from DHEC on that, and we haven’t had any discussion on that yet," Darby said. “It would be the state requiring that. It wouldn’t be something that we as one district would require.”
A COVID-19 vaccine won’t become widely available to Americans until the middle of next year, according to CDC Director Robert Redfield.