TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — More than a hundred classrooms shut down and cleared due to COVID -- that’s the latest count from the Pima County Health Department. Pima County Health officials see vaccinating kids as a key to keeping all of us safe.
Brian Eller is the Pima Health Department's liaison with the schools. He says the Health Department tries to avoid shutting down classrooms but considers it when it’s clear two or more students in that class caught COVID from each other.
“Doesn't mean that it's siblings, or cousins that we're playing together or two friends that are on a baseball team and things of that nature,” he said.
Eller says the health department and school districts consider how well the class may be able to minimize spreading COVID with safeguards like masks before there’s a move to shut down a classroom.
“We would advise that parents who want to avoid that kind of thing, just strongly encourage their kids to wash their hands and to wear a mask appropriately when indoors,” he said.
Eller says to encourage COVID vaccinations the health department’s been bringing shot clinics to three schools each day -- and averaging about 150 vaccinations at each site.
Department Director Doctor Theresa Cullen says with case counts climbing, and vaccine protection getting weaker with time, Pima County did not wait for CDC approval to open vaccine booster shots to anyone 18 and up.
She says since they have not seen safety problems with vaccinations for children as young as five, but those vaccinations can help make a whole family safer.
“The more people in a family unit that are vaccinated, the less likely it is that COVID will come into that unit. So it's important to note that while one member of the family being vaccinated is critical and a great first step, vaccinating everyone who's eligible in the family in order for the extended family is critical to stopping the pandemic right now,” he said.