GRPS begins offering vaccines at high schools Wednesday

GRPS 09122020
Posted at 3:52 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 18:45:11-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  — Wednesday starting at 2 p.m., Grand Rapids Public Schools will be hosting vaccine clinics at neighborhood high schools.

Currently open to students ages 16 and older, the first day of the clinic will be at Ottawa Hills High School. Students must sign up in advance and have a parent or guardian present if they are under 18. Parents are eligible to receive the vaccine at the same time as their students.

For GRPS, it's a way to provide vaccine accessibility for their families.

“Some families don’t feel welcome in downtown Grand Rapids. They may not be familiar with downtown Grand Rapids. Devos Place is kind of a large and daunting facility. It’s beautiful. But it can be a little intimidating,” Grand Rapids Public Schools Spokesperson John Helmholdt said.

GRPS says they're awaiting further instruction from the Kent County Health Department as to whether or not they can begin administering the vaccine to students 12 and older based on current FDA emergency approval.

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Spectrum Health doctors say it will be a while before the COVID-19 vaccine is mandated along with regular vaccinations in order to attend school. That's because the vaccine currently has emergency use authorization, and isn't fully approved by the FDA.

"These vaccines are not what we call approved by the FDA, which is a later step in the process. And when we're under an emergency use authorization for regulatory reasons we cannot mandate the use of the vaccine. So until the FDA goes through the process and approves the vaccine, there can be no discussions about making these vaccines mandatory for school entry," Doctor Rosemary Olivero with Spectrum Health said.

Though not mandatory, GRPS says their clinics serve as an important resource for our community.

“Our students and their families can come to a neighborhood-based school, that they’re familiar with,” Helmholdt said.