Special needs students get COVID vaccines supplied by N.J. school district | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

The first of several upcoming vaccination sessions sponsored by the Lakewood Public Schools for special needs students ages 16 and older began Wednesday at the district high school.

Over 600 students signed up for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and it was administered Wednesday by staffers from CheMed Health Care Center, a non-profit community health center in Lakewood.

The program is sponsored by Lakewood Public Schools following Gov. Phil Murphy’s order last month making the students eligible for shots.

During Wednesday’s round of shots, Kelieo Mercado, 16, a student at Lakewood High School said, “It wasn’t as scary (as I thought).”

“It just seemed like a normal one that you would take,” he said, adding that he only felt the needle “a little bit.”

Mark Berkowitz, Chief Operating Officer at CheMed Center For Health Education Medicine & Dentistry, said it was the second time his staff had administered shots at the school. He was referring to the 380 teachers, therapists, nurses and other staff members that were vaccinated during a March 15 event in the Lakewood High School gym.

”It’s very simple. This is our second time here,” Berkowitz said. “We feel that (the staff members) are very important part of … the society of helping our children, so we came here to vaccinate them. Now, the vulnerable children, the 16-year-olds and above who are special needs children.”

Wednesday’s vaccinations were held in a tent set in the high school parking lot and will be followed by another session on Thursday in the same location during the same hours, and then a third session on Sunday afternoon from 3:30-5:30 p.m., officials said.

Another three days of vaccinations will be held at the school on April 13-15, each from 8 a.m. to noon, in those cases administered by staff of the Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, a Lakewood hospital that’s part of the RWJBarnabas Heath system.

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Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com.

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