VNA Health Care is excited to partner with local schools across our service area to vaccinate school staff as well as students and their families ages 12 and older against COVID-19. These clinics provide easy and convenient access to vaccinations for those families whose busy schedules may not have permitted them to make appointments previously. The VNA immunization team has provided approximately 800 vaccinations during onsite clinics at Romeoville High School (Valley View School District), East Aurora High School (East Aurora School District 131), West Aurora High School (West Aurora School District 129), and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). Upcoming clinic sites include Kaneland High School and Harter Middle School (Kaneland Community Unit School District #302), East Aurora High School (East Aurora School District 131), and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA).
VNA is pleased to share the article from Megan Jones of the Aurora Beacon-News detailing efforts to vaccinate Aurora students and their families. Please see below for the full article.
For Kevin Lozano, 14, of Aurora, receiving the COVID-19 vaccination was important because he wants to attend high school in person in the fall instead of starting a year with new teachers, new classmates and a new environment on a computer screen.
He went to his future high school - East Aurora - last week to receive his first dose as part of an ongoing effort by VNA Health Care to vaccinate all students and staff at schools across the Aurora area.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the organization founded 102 years ago in Aurora has provided 33,000 COVID-19 tests and administered over 44,000 doses of the vaccine to mostly underserved residents in Kane, Will, DuPage and Kendall counties, officials said.
After children ages 12 to 15 were approved to receive the Pfizer vaccine last month, VNA officials said they quickly shifted their focus to vaccinating children and began reaching out to several school districts to plan vaccine drives. Vaccination events will take place in June, July and August at East Aurora and West Aurora high schools and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.
“One of the things we wanted was to catch students before they headed out for summer jobs, or some of the students go on extended family vacations and college visits, so we worked with the schools to schedule a plan both before school ends and during vacation time,” said Chrissie Howorth, Vice President of Philanthropy & Communications for VNA.
Around 600 children under the age of 18 tested positive in Kane County through VNA COVID-19 testing during the pandemic, VNA Health Care President & CEO Linnea Windel said.
“We really have seen that kids can get it, so it is really important to get vaccinated,” Windel said.
Howorth cited a 15-year-old student in Bolingbrook who died after contracting COVID-19 in May as an example of why they cannot forget the virus impacts young people too.
“Many of the students we work with are from underserved communities with multi-generational families living together and many of their parents are essential workers,” Howorth said. “They continue to be at an increased risk.”
Parents are encouraged to come with their kids during the VNA vaccine events held at schools and also get the shot themselves as a sort of one-stop shop to vaccinate the whole family, Windel said.
At the event May 26 at East Aurora High School, 400 people were vaccinated. As of Wednesday, VNA has vaccinated 1,200 children aged 12 to 18. VNA has also pushed to vaccinate students because while they might be going to school online, many work in grocery stores or fast-food restaurants.
Cowherd Elementary School student Abetsai Hernandez, 13, said she was not a big fan of needles and was very nervous to receive the shot, but she “just wants this to be over.”
While she anxiously closed her eyes as she was vaccinated at the May 26 event, she had a large grin on her face afterward and said she is looking forward to having a regular summer.
“Last year has been boring because you can’t really go anywhere,” she said.
In addition to students, since February, VNA has also vaccinated around 2,946 school personnel.
Many of the VNA nurses attended either East Aurora or West Aurora high schools and have enjoyed going back to their stomping grounds to vaccinate students and their former teachers, Howorth said. VNA officials hope that parents might feel more comfortable getting the vaccine themselves after a trusted school and health care provider encourages them to get the shot, Windel said.
Upcoming VNA vaccination dates for first doses of the vaccine include June 8 and 9 at West Aurora High School, July 14 at East Aurora High School and June 14 and 25 and July 15 at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.
Students and their families are able to make appointments to receive the vaccine online at www.vnahealth.com. Appointments for the second dose are made during the initial visit.