This summer, get every eligible Chicago Public Schools student vaccinated

Two months until the next school year is plenty of time to get every student 12 and older protected from COVID-19. The need is clear: Almost 32,000 Chicago children 17 and younger have contracted the disease.

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Odamay Boone, 12, gets a vaccine at a Chicago of Public Health event at a “Vax and Relax” event at 1256 W 63rd St in Englewood, Saturday, June 5, 2021.

Odamay Boone, 12, gets a COVID vaccine at a Chicago Department of Public Health event in Englewood on June 5. Chicago Public Schools will offer the vaccine to students 12 and older beginning June 12, an essential first step to a safe reopening, the Editorial Board writes.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Chicago has two months until the new school year, which is more than enough time to reach this worthy goal:

Get every eligible student vaccinated before classes begin again.

Protecting students from COVID-19 is an all-important first step on the road back to safe, in-person instruction, which will be mandatory across the state this fall. A smooth reopening — a real “back to school” — is a must for Chicago, something schoolchildren desperately need after a year of mostly remote learning that undoubtedly took a steep academic, social and emotional toll on students and families alike.

CPS will not get back to normal — a better normal, we hope — unless vaccination is a top priority. So far, 78% of teachers have been vaccinated. The goal should be nothing less for eligible students.

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To that end, we strongly urge parents to take advantage of CPS’ vaccination campaign that begins July 12.

Working with the Chicago Public Health Department, CPS will offer the vaccine to students 12 and older, and their families, at three school sites on different days of the week: Chicago Vocational Career Academy in Avalon Park on Tuesdays, Roosevelt High School in Albany Park on Wednesdays and Michele Clark High School in Austin on Thursdays.

No proof of health insurance or immigration status is required. Walk-ins are welcome.

CPS also will offer the vaccine via mobile units at schools with large numbers of homeless students and at pop-up vaccination clinics at back-to-school events this summer.

If any of us needs a reminder of how important it is for young people to be vaccinated against this potentially deadly disease, consider this: More than 4 million children and teens in the United States have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began. As of July 1, they account for 14% of all COVID-19 cases in the country.

In Chicago, residents who are 17 or younger account for 31,949, or 11%, of all COVID cases, city data show.

Chicago’s got two months. Let’s do right by 350,000 students.

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