Mayor: Public schools will play role in COVID-19 vaccine outreach

Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter greets a P.S. 064 Robert Simon student as children return to school on the Lower East Side, April 26, 2021.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Officials hinted again on Wednesday that New York City schools will play a major role in getting children vaccinated against COVID-19.

During his almost daily pandemic press conference, reporters asked Mayor Bill de Blasio and his team again how or public schools will play a role in ensuring New York City children get the COVID-19 vaccine now that children 12 and older are eligible to get the Pfizer shot. 

Last week, City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said the Department of Health was working with pediatricians and the Department of Education “who will be critical to both administering the vaccine as well as communicating with parents and guardians about its safety.” 

In response to reporter questions on Wednesday, de Blasio did not elaborate on how the DOE would communicate with parents about the vaccine instead giving a vague answer that Family Enrichment Centers and schools would be promoting the vaccine “in a lot of different ways.” 

“We’re going to make it easy for them,” de Blasio said after touting yesterday’s news that 20,000 New York City children have received a dose of the vaccine over the last week. “We’re going to reach out to them, and I think we’re going to get a very strong response.” De Blasio. 

But while de Blasio encouraged families to set up appointments to vaccinate their children, some have been critical of the pace of vaccinations among city children.

Manhattan Councilmember Mark Levine, also a candidate for Manhattan borough president, urged the city over the weekend to offer the shot in schools as means of ramping up vaccination efforts among kids. 

In response to Levine’s recommendation, de Blasio said Tuesday that he would consider turning New York City public schools into vaccination sites. 

“I think it’s worth a look for sure,” de Blasio said. “We just got the approval and obviously the fastest way, and the easiest way was to take advantage of the existing centers that were up and running and in a lot of different neighborhoods, but, you know, it’s worth looking at any and all approaches that would be helpful.” 

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