GDOE: Many parents don’t want their children vaccinated in schools

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Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)

Earlier this week, the Guam Department of Education shared a link for an online Department of Public Health and Social Services survey for parents of elementary school-aged students. This survey will collect data on parent and guardian thoughts and concerns in regards to their children getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The results, questions, and concerns collected through this survey will be shared and addressed at the virtual town hall meeting this evening being hosted by DPHSS with the assistance of GDOE.

According to GDOE deputy superintendent Erika Cruz, the results of the survey so far indicated that parents don’t want their children vaccinated in the schools.

“We had just sent out the surveys on Tuesday and yesterday was a holiday. So the numbers are pretty small, and as our survey said, we’ll be waiting until Friday to get all that information. However, from the results that we have so far, it looks like parents would prefer not to have their child vaccinated at the school and they would either opt to take their child whether it be to the University of Guam, the mayor’s office, or their private care provider to get vaccinated,” Cruz said during a news conference Thursday.

She added that the majority of the parents who filled out the survey also indicated that they would prefer to accompany their child on their own to get vaccinated elsewhere and they can’t do that during school hours when they are at work.

This jives with the responses PNC got from parents asked about their vaccination preferences. A small number of parents would not have their children vaccinated at all. But although most parents were willing to have their children vaccinated, they don’t want them vaccinated in a school setting. Instead, most of the parents asked by PNC said they prefer to have their children vaccinated in the more familiar and comfortable setting of the family health provider or at the non-school vaccination sites where they can more closely watch over the vaccination of their children.

According to Cruz, there are approximately 17,000 children between the ages of five and 11 and 3659 kids have already gotten their first vaccination and 848 students or children between the ages of five and 11 have already gotten their second vaccination.

“So we are currently monitoring this survey and we are encouraging parents to participate in the virtual informational or town hall meeting that’s scheduled for Friday, Dec. 10 sponsored by Public Health. There will be a doctor there to answer questions should parents have questions relative to vaccination,” Cruz said.

During the virtual meeting, members of the DPHSS team will facilitate the presentation and address the concerns of the community. Participants will also have the opportunity to share their concerns and interact with GDOE officials.

“Parental input and consent are critical if our public health officials want to maximize efforts to vaccinate children in the 5 to 11 age group,” said GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez. “Based on the survey responses that we hope to receive soon as well as the discussion with parents at the town hall, we will be better able to determine whether and how parents prefer to vaccinate their children. We don’t move forward until our parents have the opportunity to weigh in.”

The virtual town hall meeting for parents via Zoom is set for tonight, Friday, December 10, at 6:00 p.m.

The Zoom session has a maximum capacity of 500 participants and will also be live-streamed on the GDOE Facebook page. The Zoom link for the virtual town hall meeting is: https://zoom.us/j/99199748915.

For parents and guardians interested in taking the online survey for their elementary school-aged students, the link is: tinyurl.com/dphssvaxsurvey21.

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