D.C. Public Schools and Howard University have partnered up to encourage more District students to get vaccinated.
They hosted a town hall Wednesday night to answer questions from parents about the vaccine.
“Our work continues to ensure families know that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and necessary for our young people,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement. “We are grateful to the students and faculty at Howard University College of Medicine for engaging with our families to talk about the critical importance of getting vaccinated.”
During the youth vaccination town hall, medical students, public health officials and even the school’s dean voiced the importance of getting the shot.
Over 2,100 children 17 and under have been hospitalized with COVID across the U.S., said Dr. Hugh Mighty, the dean of the Howard University School of Medicine. “So there’s a good reason to start thinking about this vaccine.”
The town hall tackled questions from how an epileptic child would react to the vaccine to the recent controversy stemming from a Nicki Minaj tweet about purported vaccine side effects.
“There is no connection from what Nicki Minaj says to real world effects,” said Patrick Ashley with D.C. Health. “In fact, you know, some of us in the public health community would encourage Nicki Minaj’s friend’s cousin to go get an STD check or to see their doctor because they could be having some other reproductive issue that is far more threatening to them. But there’s no connection between testicular swelling and the vaccination.”
Along with the town hall, Howard University is also sending medical students like Stephanie Carter to middle and high schools to give students information about the vaccine and answer any questions.
“A lot of the concerns were about misinformation that they heard on the news about the vaccine, making them sick, or students were worried their arms were gonna fall off,” Carter said. “A student told me she was concerned about turning into a zombie. So I think being able to talk to them and clear up some of their concerns and remind them that a lot of the childhood vaccinations that they have received are very similar to the COVID-19 vaccine and kind of easing a lot of their anxiety has been good.”
The push for vaccinating students intensified this week when Bowser announced that all student athletes 12 and older would have to get the vaccine by November to play any school sports.
Only kids 12 and older can get the vaccine now and some parents expressed their concerns about sending their younger kids to school unvaccinated. They also questioned when vaccines would be ready for kids under 12.
Mighty says figuring out dosages usually takes longer for children.
Pfizer has announced that its shot is effective and safe in children five and older. They plan to seek FDA approval in the coming weeks. Mighty says younger kids may begin getting shots in late October.