Gov. Laura Kelly and Topeka school district superintendent Tiffany Anderson chat Monday with Laura Vandruff, 15, as she receives a COVID-19 vaccination at Topeka High School. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — Fifteen-year-old freshman Laura Vandruff didn’t let a broken bone stand in the way Monday of getting a vaccination for COVID-19.
“I forced my parents to let me come,” she said.
Vandruff, escorted by her mother Sharla, who temporarily took charge of Laura’s crutches, participated in the vaccination clinic at Topeka High School. Indeed, she said, the impetus was her daughter’s desire to join millions of Americans who have been inoculated.
It followed action by federal and state health officials last week to encourage individuals 12 years or older to get a vaccination to protect against spread of the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared use of vaccine for people 12 to 16 years of age. Based on previous CDC guidance, individuals 16 and older have had access to vaccinations for several months.
Gov. Laura Kelly, who is seeking re-election in 2022, marked expansion of the vaccination program by touring the high school’s temporary clinic spread across the gymnasium’s floor.
A line stretched beyond exit doors of the central Topeka school, with some parents joining their children to get a free shot.
“I’m glad to see so many parents here with their kids reinforcing the importance of getting this vaccination,” Kelly said. “We know from the studies that have been done and just practical realities of what’s happened that the vaccines are very, very safe.”
She said the process of educating Kansans about efficacy of the vaccinations for COVID-19 would continue as the state worked to broaden the percentage of residents who have received the necessary shot or shots. About 40% of Kansans have received a vaccination and that number is expected to climb as more people share with family, friends and community members their experiences, the governor said.
“The others who have not, who are just hesitant because they’re afraid of it, will see there’s nothing to be afraid of,” Kelly said. “So, when they’re ready, we’re ready.”
Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of Topeka public schools, said the district scheduled vaccination clinics Monday and Tuesday at Topeka High School, Highland Park High School and Topeka West High School. Vaccinations also will be available at the district’s Saturday food pantry during the summer, she said.
“We’re excited. Really trying to use every opportunity to be kind of the center of the community,” Anderson said.
She expected the high school clinics would eventually prompt vaccination of more than 1,000 students in Topeka public schools.
The district provided translators at Topeka High School to speak with parents and students who didn’t speak English as their first language, she said. Many of these families have shared their confusion about the vaccination process, she said.
“They’ve been more hesitant than others,” Anderson said. “All of our newcomer students, at least a majority of them — the ones that don’t any English, the family doesn’t speak English — they all came today.”
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