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Schools to host vaccine clinics

The city’s three public high schools will host COVID-19 vaccination clinics for Suffolk Public Schools staff and students ages 12 and up.

Lakeland High School will host a clinic June 22, King’s Fork High School June 23 and Nansemond River High School June 24. Each clinic will run from 7 a.m. until noon.

SPS has partnered with Rite Aid Pharmacy to provide the Pfizer BioNTech two-dose vaccine. The doses are administered 21 days apart. It asks that people fill out the COVID-19 vaccine clinic form (http://bit.ly/COVID19vaccineclinic) so it knows how many people to expect.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, 2,614 people ages 10 to 19 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Suffolk, with 1,695 people in the age group fully vaccinated.

The vaccines will be open to employees and students 12 and up only. A parent, guardian or someone acting on their behalf, must be present for a student under age 18.

During what he expects to be the school division’s last COVID-19 update barring an increase in health metrics, Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon said the health metrics are mostly encouraging.

Nearly 1,000 SPS staff members received the COVID-19 vaccine when it was offered in late January and February for the two doses.

While the Eastern Region’s rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people and its percent-positivity, and the city’s rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 has continued to decline, the city’s percent positivity took a spike, nearly doubling from 3.2% for the May 24 report date to 6.2% for May 31, though it was down to 4.3% for June 7.

Gordon said he wanted to caution the school community not to become complacent with health measures.
An executive order May 28 from Gov. Ralph Northam noted that people could choose not to wear their masks if they are fully vaccinated.

“You can see that spike we had from May 24 to May 31, that means that some of us weren’t on the honor code,” Gordon said. “We have to make sure … as we continue to move forward that either you’re getting vaccinated or you’re wearing your mask. The pandemic is not fully over yet. We were lucky that we had it drop back down to the 4.3% positivity rate within the last week.”

He said practicing proper health measures will help ensure that schools can open five days per week when school opens this fall.

In school-age cases, Gordon noted just one positive COVID-19 test out of 38 PCR tests among those ages 4 through 10 from April 22 to May 22. In Suffolk, there were 2,179 PCR tests during the same timeframe, with 91 positive.

“We still have that chance that things could still spike back up,” Gordon said, “if we don’t follow our mitigation strategies and methods.”