Houston school plans vaccination event for students 12 and up

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Monday, the FDA gave Pfizer emergency use authorization for its vaccine for adolescents 12 and up.

Xavier Educational Academy was ahead of the game just one day before the FDA approval. On Sunday night, they reached out to parents to notify them about plans to vaccinate students on Thursday, with the anticipation that the FDA would give approval by then.

The academy and a pharmacy teamed up to come up with a plan to vaccinate students so they can get back to in-person school and be safe.

Many parents like Rosa Villanueva have been eagerly awaiting the vaccine.

She has three kids who are all 12 years old. A pair of twin boys and one adopted daughter. Like many parents, the pandemic caused some real challenges.

"It's been really hard. Sophia has special needs, and so does Andres. So having them at home has been really hard, and we just let them go back to school," said Villanueva.

While she's vaccinated, her kids aren't, so sending them back wasn't an easy decision.

"I'm not comfortable yet, even though I'm sending them. Socially, it was really hard for them. Emotionally, it was really hard for them," she said.

When Villanueva heard the vaccine could be coming soon for kids 12 and up, she was brought to tears.

"I saw it on the news and I started crying, 'Oh my God, it's happening,'" said Villanueva.

She wasn't sure where she would take her children to get the vaccine.

Then she got a call from Richard De La Cuadra, the head of school for Xavier. He knows her and her family well.

While her children aren't students at the school, he told her they were going to vaccinate kids and that there would be extra doses. So, he offered doses to her three children.

"He's like a saint. He's the best person ever," said Villanueva.

The pharmacy is slated to get 1,000 doses, which is a lot more than they need so they want to help other families vaccinate their children.

"This is a way out for us as educators, parents, students so that we can start resuming a more normal life. At least being able to walk around without the mask, being able to hug," said the managing director of schools for Xavier Academy, David Garner.

Doctors say there has been an uptick in cases for 12- to 15-year-olds, so this could really help.

Pediatrician's offices are getting ready for the vaccine, too.

"The efficacy is showing even higher in the younger ones, so we're excited about being able to offer this to our patients. We strongly believe in vaccines, especially ones that are going to help prevent death," said Dr. Victoria Regan with Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Regan also recommends you call your doctor, especially if you haven't taken your teen for a check-up in a while. Memorial Hermann has a list of providers on their website.

Memorial Hermann sent out the following statement:

Memorial Hermann is proud to announce that vaccine registration is now open for 12- to 15-year-olds. Parents can register their child/children on the Memorial Hermann website. Now that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been granted Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, we are awaiting an official recommendation from the CDC - as well as approval from the State - for use in this age group. Once that happens, parents will receive an invitation to schedule a vaccination appointment for their child/children. Please note, a parent or legal representative must accompany children ages 12- to 17-years old to their vaccination appointment

Xavier Academy is encouraging parents to visit its website if they would like to learn more about their vaccination event and sign up.

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