NJ high schoolers added to COVID vaccine program, still optional
High school-aged students have a new chance to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as the Paterson school district's vaccine program has been expanded.
In partnership with St. Joseph’s Health, which has been providing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to adults in Paterson schools since February, eligible teens have now been added to the effort.
It's at least the second voluntary vaccine program for high schoolers in-state, following a district in Gloucester County that set up a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at its Washington Township High School in the Sewell section.
As of Thursday, the Pfizer vaccine remained the only option for 16 and 17-year-olds in the country, and it has been widely reported that the same brand may soon get the OK from federal regulators for people as young as 12 years old.
Students do not need to be registered at Paterson Public Schools to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the program.
So far, there have been at least 10 colleges in-state that have announced required vaccines for students returning to campus in the fall. Two schools, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Stevens Institute of Technology, also have required COVID-19 vaccines of all faculty and staff.
Stockton University announced its requirement for vaccination by Thursday, while Rowan University also announced a requirement and incentive program for vaccinations, in which students vaccinated by early August could receive a $1,000 credit on tuition and housing, combined.
The three COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in the U.S. are the first such wide-scale use of the FDA's emergency use option, which was created around 2004, as the country dealt with potential bio-terror threats.
Before considering any COVID-19 vaccines, federal officials brought the three-phase standards more into line with licensing regulations, including at least two months of follow-up after patients’ second vaccination prior to EUA approval.
However, the emergency use authorization has added another layer of anxiety among families who are vaccine hesitant, particularly in the cases of younger children for whom none of the doses have yet been approved.
Teachers have been slated to return to Paterson school buildings on June 1, working in-person Monday through Thursday and remotely on Fridays, under a resolution passed by the Paterson Board of Education, under recommendation by Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer.
Parents and guardians can register for appointments for eligible teenagers at the district’s website.
Interested families can read the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization fact sheet and the latest information from state health officials before giving consent for their child to be vaccinated in Paterson.
St. Joseph’s Health staff then would contact guardians with an appointment — to which the adult is required to bring a photo ID while students are required to bring either their school identification card or birth certificate.