The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 09, 2022 1:00 am

FWCS to open 4 vaccine sites

Parental consent needed for students to get jab

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Community Schools will soon offer vaccine clinics where student vaccination rates are the lowest – elementary schools.

Only 25% of eligible students are vaccinated, with grade-level rates ranging from 9% to 47% as of information Wednesday. The percentages reflect students who have received the first two doses but not necessarily the booster, which isn't tracked by the system FWCS uses, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.

“The rates continue to inch up slowly,” Stockman said. “One trend has remained the same so far this school year, the percent of students vaccinated goes up with each grade level.”

Children ages 5 to 11 have been eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine only since November, and rates for their grade levels lag those whose eligibility began last spring.

The biggest difference is between grade six – the year children typically turn 12 – and grade seven. Rates jump from 19% to 33%, the district said.

With parental consent, students at Abbett, Adams, Bloomingdale and South Wayne elementary schools can get their first vaccine dose next week through a program FWCS developed with Parkview Community Nursing and Super Shot. Students will get their second dose three weeks later.

Organizers considered factors including neighborhoods' access to vaccines and community vaccination rates when selecting the schools, Stockman said.

Adams and Abbett are in the two least vaccinated ZIP codes in the district, 46803 and 46806. As of Thursday, rates were 36.8% and 42.7%, respectively, according to the state.

Bloomingdale and South Wayne are in the 46808 and 46807 ZIP codes, which had vaccination rates of 48.3% and 48.6%.

Other ZIP codes within FWCS have rates exceeding 50%, with 46835 recording the highest at 58.7%.

About 55% of Allen County residents are vaccinated.

FWCS hopes to offer more vaccination opportunities for students, Stockman said. Meanwhile, she said, the district continues to provide COVID-19 testing from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, but the free service is now limited to FWCS students and symptomatic staff members. Limited supplies and changes in the state's guidelines prompted the change.

The testing is intended to help students and staff return to schools as quickly as possible, whether that applies to quarantine periods or ruling out COVID-19 for someone showing symptoms, Stockman said. 

“For kids who can get back into classrooms sooner, we want to make that testing available,” she said.

The district's schools also have rapid tests that are used when a student or employee comes to school and then develops symptoms. The nurse can test them immediately, and students return to class if results are negative as long as they are not running a fever.

FWCS hasn't yet implemented a voluntary, random testing COVID-19 program described in its re-entry plan last summer. It was envisioned as a way to identify students and staff who might have the virus and be contagious but don't have symptoms, allowing the district to take quick action to prevent further spread.

“We just don't have the staff to do it because they are testing so many symptomatic people,” Stockman said.

By the numbers

FWCS student vaccination rates

Grade Rate

12: 47%

11: 44%

10: 40%

9: 38%

8: 36%

7: 33%

6: 19%

5: 13%

4: 13%

3: 11%

2: 10%

1: 9%

K: 9%

Overall: 25%

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