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Health agencies roll out COVID-19 clinics to Shawnee County schools for students who want one



TOPEKA, Kan. – Instead of green Trojan uniforms, camouflage fatigues and blue-tinted scrubs strode up and down the Highland Park High School gym floor Thursday morning.

The nurses and National Guard members had come to the school to give its students, staff and other community members a more convenient option to get the COVID-19 vaccine — in this case, the one developed by Pfizer.

“Every vaccine that we put into an arm is closer to the pandemic being over, so being able to offer it to those who choose to take it is an important step in that,” said Michael McNulty, emergency management director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Working in partnership with Topeka Unified School District 501 and Shawnee County’s health department and emergency management office, the organizations on Thursday rolled out the first of several planned mobile vaccine clinics at area high schools.

About 50 people were scheduled to receive vaccines Thursday morning at Highland Park, with other mobile clinics scheduled for Topeka High and Topeka West High on Thursday as well. They’ll all return to receive second-doses at further clinics scheduled at the schools in three weeks.

McNulty said much of the work is the same as vaccinating people at any other location, with just a few logistics to figure out in getting personnel and materials out to the school sites.

“It’s essentially the same as if you were party-planning,” joked McNulty, “except we’re doing it for one specific purpose.”

Sophomore Mikaylah Kuebler was one of the first in line to receive the vaccine at Highland Park. She said she was excited to receive the vaccine for free and at a convenient location, only having to miss her first-hour French class.

“I felt relieved, because I’m halfway through getting my vaccines without ever having to have gotten COVID,” Kuebler said.

Highland Park principal John Buckendorff said the clinic was a great opportunity to go even further in protecting the school’s students and staff.

“I think it makes everyone just feel more secure in coming to school, knowing more people are vaccinated now,” he said.

The health agencies are working to schedule clinics at other county high schools in coming weeks.