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Vaccination Awareness Day is one step against COVID-19

We urge the district to make long-range plans to continue hosting vaccination clinics, especially in communities where vaccination rates are lagging.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady gives updates about COVID-19 cases and encouraged vaccinations at City Hall in the Loop on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 9, 2021.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady gives updates about COVID-19 cases and encouraged vaccinations at City Hall in the Loop on Tuesday afternoon.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools will be closed Nov. 12 for Vaccination Awareness Day, but we hope the event is just the beginning to do more, so that as many students as possible get vaccinated.

COVID-19, it seems, will be with us long-term. So we urge the district to make long-range plans to continue hosting vaccination clinics, especially in communities where vaccination rates are lagging.

The decision by CPS to cancel classes on Friday, so families have time to get their children immunized is commendable, despite skeptics who say the day off was announced to cover up expected staff shortages after the Veterans Day holiday.

We’re in agreement with CPS CEO Pedro Martinez, who said Tuesday at a news conference with city health officials that Vaccination Awareness Day is “an investment for the rest of the school year.”

This weekend is a critical period to get children fully vaccinated before the upcoming holidays, when major spikes in coronavirus cases can arise.

CPS already has plans in place, including four regional clinics — at Roosevelt, Clark, Richards and Chicago Vocational high schools— plus six mobile “events” at other schools including Kenwood Academy and Cesar Chavez.

Also, according to Martinez, 13 of the district’s school-based clinics will offer pediatric vaccines.

CPS should continue expanding vaccination efforts by increasing the number of vaccination clinics to schools citywide. Martinez said the district will have more than “100 different vaccination events” in November and December. There’s plenty of precedent: Long before COVID-19, CPS students received immunizations at school.

Consider New York City, where public schools began offering vaccination for children ages 5 to 11 at city-run clinics set up at schools. Initial demand was so great there that supply problems and delayed shipments left some children without a shot. But by Tuesday, the city’s mayor touted the success of the program, saying 4,500 children had gotten their COVID-19 shots.

A day off for awareness is a step in the right direction. More opportunities for vaccination would be another good step.

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