CLEVELAND — Archbishop Lyke School teamed up with Case Western Reserve University to vaccinate its students, parents, and teachers Friday.
Held in Archbishop Lyke’s gymnasium, 150 people signed up for the clinic. Families from St. Thomas Aquinas School were also invited to attend.
Archbishop Lyke School principal Nancy Lynch said the idea came together last month. She and other school administrators were trying to find at-home COVID-19 tests for families so they could safely return to in-person learning after Christmas break.
Lynch said one of the school’s teachers is dating a medical student at Case Western Reserve University. She couldn’t get them any tests, but she offered to host a vaccine clinic at the school.
“It was an opportunity that we couldn't pass and our teachers are supporting it and so we're really excited about it,” said Lynch. “In the meantime, we did get 165 kits from the health department. So we were able to test our kids and they're in safely, but now they're getting vaccinated and their parents are getting boostered as well as our teachers.”
For months, fear of potential side effects kept Archbishop Lyke third grade teacher Lacoya White from getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“My hesitancy came from just being afraid of the side effects. I don't think it was a big government scheme or anything to harm me,” said White. “I was just really more afraid of – I wasn't thinking of all the good it could do. I thought of all the bad it could do.”
But Friday, that fear turned to courage as she finally got her first shot.
She said her decision was solidified back in December when she and her 76-year-old mom, who is vaccinated, came down with COVID-19. Her mom only had a runny, stuffy nose.
“My oxygen level had went down. I was in a lot of pain. I did have to go to the ER to be treated for the pain and to have my oxygen monitored,” said White. “I saw the difference and that just reinforced, ‘Yeah, when I get better. I'm getting it.’”
Students mustered up the same courage as White, some brave and excited for the shot, while others were more skeptical and nervous.
Many of the families that attended are Black. The Black community initially started out more hesitant to the vaccine, but is now slowly closing the racial gap in part because of outreach like the school vaccine clinic.
Shantae Jordan brought her three children, including her 11-year-old son Delbert, to get vaccinated. Initially, she said she waited to see how other kids reacted to the vaccine and now feels more comfortable.
“I feel pretty good about it. Naturally, we have a hesitancy because of our history in this country. But at this point, I think that it's pretty safe. We've seen the statistics, we've seen how people have been reacting to it. So I'm glad to see a lot more people getting out and just making sure we all stay safe,” said Jordan.
While getting their shots, nervous students were surrounded by teachers from both schools who encouraged and cheered them on to get the shot.
“When that teacher stands up in front of you every single day, you build a real trust with them good relationship and a real trust in them,” said Lynch. “If your teacher’s saying, ‘This is something I'm going to do, I think it might be good for you.’ They're going to take value in that.”
For White, it made all the difference to get her shot somewhere she was comfortable and she’s urging more people to get vaccinated.
“Think about it. Think about it some more like I did, and I really don't think you will regret getting the vaccine,” said White.
Lynch said they plan to host another vaccine clinic in three weeks so kids, families, and teachers can get their second vaccine dose.
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