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Pittsfield schools to offer youth vaccination events as student COVID cases rise

Child gets vaccine in arm

The U.S. entered a new phase Wednesday in its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, with shots now available to millions of elementary-age children. In Berkshire County, shots could be available by next week.

PITTSFIELD — With a growing number of COVID-19 cases in the Pittsfield school community, district and Board of Health officials are hoping a series of youth vaccination events will help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have an extremely high number of cases with our students,” Superintendent Joe Curtis said during a Pittsfield School Committee meeting Wednesday night. “I would just indicate and stress that it’s even more cases than we had in the pandemic at this time last year.”

Over the next two months, the district will host six vaccination events for children ages 5 to 11 to receive the full-dose series of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was approved this month. The youth dose of the vaccine is about one-third of the adult dose, but still requires a follow-up shot three weeks after the first dose for the vaccine to be fully effective.

Since the start of the month, there have been 35 new student and six new staff cases reported throughout the district, according to data from the district’s coronavirus case count collected by The Eagle each day.

As of Thursday, the district reported that there were 33 active student cases and five active staff cases, along with 145 recovered student cases and 22 recovered staff cases since the start of the school year.

Curtis said that children can attend whichever event is most convenient for them, adding that the children don’t have to get their second shot at the same location they received their first shot.

Curtis said that district officials were expecting cases to go up after the Halloween holiday as students gathered outside school for trick-or-treating and parties.

While officials have said that they believe most of the cases this year have be contracted outside school, on Oct. 25, District Health and Safety Coordinator Eric Lamoureaux said that “up until a point we could say with confidence that there has not been in building spread. We probably couldn’t say that now.”

School officials are concerned by the number of cases, and Curtis told the committee he will be asking that families continue with good public health practices like masking, distancing, hand-washing and sanitizing.

“The pandemic is not over, and those health and safety practices are critical not only in school — as we have continued to do throughout — but outside of school,” Curtis said.

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or

413-496-6149.

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