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Vaccine clinics aimed at students open at schools

Updated June 2, 2021 - 8:41 am

The last time Edwin Guerrero set foot in the Desert Pines High School gym, it was to take the ACT in February.

On Tuesday, he returned as one of the first students in line for a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, waiting for a shot that would help him return to campus and see his friends after a year of virtual learning.

“I’m not going to stop wearing a mask, but I will feel better about going to school this fall,” Guerrero said.

Desert Pines is one of 16 schools operating as Southern Nevada Health District vaccine clinics in early June, offering shots to all Nevadans age 12 and older. The clinics will provide first and second doses 21 days apart.

Desert Pines on Tuesday saw two dozen teens and adults lined up for the clinic as it opened in the afternoon.

“It’s a relief for them going back to school,” Silvia Guerrero said of seeing her children — rising senior Edwin and rising sophomore Angie — vaccinated.

There are no discussions at the local level to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for children to attend school, according to Dr. Fermin Leguen, district health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District. If such a decision were to be made, it would start at the federal level, he said.

But more than 1 million individuals in Clark County have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Leguen added, including around 49,000 of those ages 12 to 19. The Pfizer vaccine was cleared for children as young as 12 in May.

Leguen said the health district hopes to capitalize on many families’ summer tradition of updating their kids’ immunizations, with new guidance allowing the COVID-19 vaccine to be offered simultaneously with other shots. He emphasized that the COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary and that parental consent is required for children to receive the shots.

“Our schools are beacons in their community and places where students know they’ll find an adult who cares about them,” School Board Vice President Irene Cepeda said of the clinics.

Superintendent Jesus Jara also credited the school district’s partnership with the health district for the vaccine clinics and for the reopening of school buildings in March.

“We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Jara said.

Registration for appointments at all available sites — including schools — can be found at www.snhd.info/covid-vaccine. Walk-ins may be permitted if capacity allows.

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