Vaccine rates among children 12-17 growing in Butler County ahead of new school year

Credit: Eileen McClory

Caption

Credit: Eileen McClory

In the wake of Friday’s public pleadings for more Butler County residents to mask up during the coronavirus variant spike, health and school officials are pointing to an increase in teenage vaccinations as an encouraging sign.

According to the most recent vaccination data available from the Butler County General Health District, teens aged 12-17 are increasing the rate of their vaccinations as the school year begins.

There was a 15% increase in Butler County children aged 12-14 getting vaccinations from July 20 to Aug. 3, the latest detailed report from the health district shows. And those ages 15-17 showed the second-highest increase of 9.4% in that two-week period.

The statistical uptick, which is described as a “slight increase” by health officials, is nevertheless good for area schools, which are now starting the new school year.

The more teens vaccinated the fewer the number forced into quarantine should contact tracing show they were near a classmate with the infection, said school and health officials.

“It’s good for schools because we want them to remain in-person,” said Erin Smiley, spokeswoman for the county health department.

“The safest way we know how to do that is to increase vaccinations among those that are eligible and for all people to wear masks when indoors. A combination of these two tools can help reduce the likelihood of a COVID outbreak and stay in school,” said Smiley.

Smiley’s department Friday issued a joint public statement along with the health departments of Hamilton and Middletown strongly urging all Butler County residents to wear masks when inside any interior spaces outside of their homes.

ExploreButler County health departments urge universal masking indoors due to COVID-19 delta variant spike

“Vaccination is our best option to stop COVID-19 in its tracks and we are pleased to see the slight increase in vaccinations among those 12-18 years old. Increasing the number of teens and adults that are vaccinated within a school system helps reduce the risk for those younger than 12 years and not currently eligible to receive the vaccine,” she said.

Fairfield Schools Superintendent Billy Smith, whose 10,000 students begin classes next week, said: “We are very pleased to hear that vaccination rates are on the rise.”

“We have offered numerous vaccination clinics because we know that we can have the greatest impact on our students if they are in school. According to the most recent Ohio Department of Health guidelines, students and staff members will not have to quarantine if they have been vaccinated,” said Smith.

Officials from Lakota Schools, which begins classes next week for its 16,800 students in 22 school buildings, welcomed the new data as hopeful.

“We are encouraged to see the continued increase in vaccination numbers in our area. We want our students, staff and community members to stay healthy and encourage those who are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to consider it,” said Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for district, which is the largest in Butler County.

Elizabeth Beadle, spokeswoman for the 6,300-student Middletown Schools that opened classes this week, echoed appreciation for the latest inoculation data.

“It’s very positive to see an upward trend of high school aged vaccinations. Middletown Schools urges all those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated,” said Beadle.