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HUNTINGTON — Around 2,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to students through school-based clinics this week.

On Wednesday at Cabell Midland High School, students aged 16 and older with a valid permission slip signed by a parent or guardian could receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

On Thursday, April 8, the school district will offer school-based clinics at Huntington High School from 8 to 11 a.m. and the Cabell County Career Technology Center from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

“When we were given the chance to (make the vaccine available to students), we did. We vaccinated almost 500 students and their family members two weeks ago, and now have taken that opportunity right into our high schools,” Cabell County Superintendent of Schools Ryan Saxe said.

In late March, the district opened up vaccine eligibility to the immediate family members of any school employee. Soon after those doses of the Moderna vaccine were administered, they extended the opportunity to all students and family members.

The doses administered in school clinics this week will be the Pfizer vaccine, as it is the only one of the three currently approved for younger ages, school officials said during a regular Board of Education meeting Tuesday.

Saxe spoke highly of not only the work school officials have done to secure an ample supply of doses, but also the school district’s relationship with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, Marshall University School of Pharmacy and Valley Health Systems in order to get the doses administered through several school clinics and also at the former Sears building at the Huntington Mall.

“We are probably one of the first school districts across the country that has actually been able to start vaccinating students ages 16-18,” Saxe said.

Approximately one month ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, predicted that high school students across the country would be able to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the early fall of this year.

He also predicted that younger students in elementary schools will likely be able to get vaccinated by the first quarter of 2022 and that studies are ongoing to determine if vaccines are safe for younger children.

Release forms were sent home with students earlier this week. They must be signed by a legal parent or guardian and returned to the school before a student may receive a vaccination. A printable copy of the form is available on the district’s website, www.cabellschools.com.

A student must be 16 years of age or older to be eligible to receive the vaccine. Students should not have received any other vaccine within 14 days prior to the school-based vaccination clinic and should not receive any vaccine until 14 days after the second dose has been given.

A date for students to receive the recommended second dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be announced. COVID-19 or vaccine-related questions or concerns can be directed to the Cabell-Huntington Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline at 304-526-3383.

Luke Creasy is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook @HDcreasy or reach him by phone at 304-526-2800.

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