‘Anxiously awaiting’: Nevada County Public Health holds school-aged vaccine clinic
Just over 350 appointments were made for the COVID-19 vaccine clinic for school-aged children held Tuesday at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building, according to Nevada County Director of Public Health Jill Blake.
All appointments made available were filled, said Blake. The clinic opened to ages 5 to 18, and according to Blake, those with appointments Tuesday had also made second-dose appointments for three weeks later.
This timing would line up with being fully vaccinated by Christmas, said Blake, explaining that feedback from parents had indicated they were excited to have larger family gatherings or have their children see older grandparents for the holidays as a result.
According to Blake, the Tuesday clinic involved between 40 and 50 staff members and volunteers, not only from the county Department of Public Health but other local medical providers, as well as Rotary Club volunteers.
Parents and children lined up in the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building’s auditorium, and then headed into an area where vaccines were being administered. Next, they moved into a waiting area for observation, which held activities, such as coloring books, to help children pass the time.
County Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Glennah Trochet was available in an “ask an expert” corner by the clinic entrance alongside Western Sierra Medical Clinic pediatric Nurse Practitioner Polly Conley, although both said they had not received many questions, as most people coming to the clinic had already had any questions answered and wanted the vaccine.
Conley added that, during her regular visits at work, she has answered many questions about the vaccine, which she said has led to people becoming comfortable with it in most cases. Some people were anxiously waiting for vaccine approval for younger children, she said, and that was the “wave” seen at Tuesday’s clinic.
Nevada City resident Leia Mainguth said she found out about Tuesday’s clinic through her children’s pediatrician, and went online to make appointments for them.
“I was anxiously awaiting for them to be able to open it up to my kids’ age group,” said Mainguth, who has three children under 12. “And once I knew it was available and I knew this clinic was happening, I put it on the calendar and we made sure we came.”
Grass Valley resident Marie Hippsley brought her 10-year-old son, Nathan, in to receive a vaccine Tuesday as well, and said she felt it had been “a long time coming,” after her older children had been vaccinated when eligibility expanded to 12 and over.
“It’s a big, big relief for me,” said Hippsley, explaining that Nathan, another of her sons, and she all have asthma. “And, it’s just nice to know that we all now are a little more protected.”
From the time the clinic began, a group of people had gathered to protest in front of the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building.
Asked about the demonstration, Blake said that she respected their freedom of speech in gathering across from the clinic. She said staff and patient safety were the priority at the clinic, and that the venue itself had been reserved for those with appointments.
Around an hour into the clinic, there were about 20 people standing on either side of South Auburn Street, many holding signs. Some showed statements such as, “Vaccines are crimes against humanity,” “Say no to mandatory vaccines,” and “We will keep coming back.”
Nevada County resident Calvin Clark was one of the people protesting in front of the clinic Tuesday. He stated he was concerned about vaccine-related injuries and disapproved of state and county officials’ approach to vaccination.
Asked about what the hope was in demonstrating, Clark pointed out drivers passing by, some of whom honked their horns or gave the protesters a thumbs-up gesture. He described those individuals as “informed citizens,” and “people who don’t believe it’s government’s place to take away parents’ religious and personal belief exemptions.”
While speaking about the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a national system monitoring vaccine safety, Clark paused to say, “Please don’t do it,” to a woman walking toward the clinic with children. Another person holding a protest sign went on to shout, “Lying to your kids,” multiple times at the woman, then saying to her, “You’re dragging them to the chamber.”
VACCINATION IN THIS AGE GROUP
As of Tuesday, according to state data on vaccination status, 2.3% of Nevada County’s 5 to 11 age group had received at least one dose. Among county residents aged 12 to 17, 55.4% have been fully vaccinated, while another 5.8% are partially vaccinated.
In Nevada County, the 12 to 17 age group is nearing the vaccination percentages of the county’s least vaccinated age group among adults, 18 to 49. As of Tuesday, 55.7% of county residents in that age group were fully vaccinated, and another 7.2% were partially vaccinated.
The state opened vaccine eligibility to those 12 or older in May, after a previous minimum age of 16. Statewide, the vaccination rate in the 12 to 17 age group is higher — 60.2% full, and 7.5% partial — than in Nevada County, although it is still not as close to catching up to the next age group.
Statewide, as of Tuesday, 71.4% of residents aged 18 to 49 have been fully vaccinated, while another 8.1% are partially vaccinated.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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