DJUSD, Yolo County tests vaccine distribution capabilities

PHOTO: A volunteer dispenser checks a patient’s paperwork right before administering an injection or flu mist.

By Max Davis-Housefield and Lauren Lee, Staff–

Davis Joint Unified School District partnered with Yolo County to plan a vaccine clinic at Harper Junior High on Oct. 17 to test vaccine distribution capabilities. 

No major vaccine companies have started to test their COVID-19 vaccines in children under 16, putting the timeline for a vaccine approved for pediatric use months in the future.

“[We are] using the flu vaccine strategy as the template for the COVID vaccine,” said Jenny Tan, Yolo County’s public information officer. 

“This is one of the test runs the county is doing on how they would mass vaccinate up to 60,000 people,” said Laura Juanitas, DJUSD Assistant Superintendent of Student Services.

Yolo County provided 500 injectable doses of the vaccine and 300 flu mists to the clinic with around 430 residents attending.

“Thus far, this is the largest clinic we have done this year,” said Dana Carey, Yolo County Office of Emergency Services Coordinator. 

There are several flu vaccination clinics in Yolo at Davis, Woodland, West Sacramento and Esparto. Around half of these are drive-thru clinics.

“We hope that by providing drive-thru clinics more people will get their flu shot since it’s more convenient for residents to just drive up and not have to get out of their car,” Tan said.

A line of cars waiting in the back of the Harper Junior High campus for the drive-thru clinic
In the back of the Harper Junior High campus, patients stall in line while filling out medical forms before reaching the dispensing station.

Senior Amaralyn Ewey and her family went to the Davis clinic to support Yolo County’s service to experience and understand the process of a COVID vaccination through the flu drive-thru. Ewey arrived at around 11:45 a.m. and spent three hours in line with her family to get their vaccinations. 

“There were a lot of people there and there were a lot of steps and paperwork,” Ewey said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. It was kind of long but since it was free and people were volunteering their time to do this we should be grateful for what we were getting.”

Ewey would support drive-thru clinics for the future but found that traffic control was a large issue. She is optimistic that the county will improve these problems.

“Someone behind us tried to hit us because they were aggressively trying to swing in front of us [to merge into another lane],” Ewey said. 

Yolo County ensures that each of its four cities have a large clinic to practice for COVID. The county plans to add more dates, possibly in Davis, depending on need and availability, and will continue to assess second clinics if they have additional doses. The updated list of flu clinics is available at the Yolo County 2020 flu site.

These practice vaccination clinics are just a small step to reopening Davis. The district is currently planning to move back to the classroom. Juanitas is looking at the possibility of a vaccine and a return to a hybrid learning model in early 2021.

Senior Jason Kubik has had troubles with his immune system in the past, something he said could make him more susceptible to COVID-19. He wants a vaccine to be “thoroughly tested” before he is vaccinated. 

“Overall I just want it to be as safe as possible,” Kubik said.

However, with his immune problems, Kubik doesn’t want to rush back into in-person learning.

 “The only way that I would feel totally safe is with a […] vaccine,” he said.

Many have pinned their hopes for a return to the classroom, as well as normal life, on an effective COVID-19 vaccine. However, it could be years before there is a widespread vaccination, especially for children.

Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, and BioNtech, a German-based biotechnology company, are developing a COVID-19 vaccine and UC Davis is studying it.

Dr. Timothy Albertson, the principal vaccine investigator for UC Davis’s trial of the vaccine, said their study will last two years. Albertson has “no idea” when there will be widespread vaccination.

This vaccine uses messenger RNA to cause human cells to make the spike protein of COVID-19. The goal of this spike protein, called IgC, is to neutralize the virus either by killing it or binding it to the spike protein which would prevent the virus from infecting the body cellularly.

Albertson believes that this vaccine will work in children which would be valuable to prevent the spread of COVID-19 since children often appear asymptomatic even when infected. 

“I would expect, like other vaccines, it will be safe and effective in kids; I’m not sure how young, if it is in adults,” Albertson said.

According to Jerica Pitts, the Pfizer global media director, the company is working actively with regulators to develop a pediatric study plan. No participants under 16 have yet received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which casts doubt onto the likelihood of a return to campus in 2021.

Pfizer has recently expanded its testing to include 16- and 17-year-olds. They are waiting on the results from their adult vaccine trials as well as permission from regulators to begin trials in younger children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *