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Onondaga County Prepares To Vaccinate 5 to 11 Year Old Children

Onondaga County and its partners are rolling out a COVID-19 vaccination plan for 5 to 11 year olds that will start tomorrow for children in the Syracuse city school district. It’s the first of many distribution sites following the CDC recommendation of the pediatric COVID vaccine for younger kids. County executive Ryan McMahon says schools won’t be the only option.

"We're going to have county clinics. You'll be able to go to your doctor's office, if they're participating; the pharmacies, once they can get the vaccine to set up appointments next week. I think within 3 to 4 weeks, we'll be able to get through this population quite quickly."

The challenge, he says, is meeting demand at multiple locations with limited staff.

"You have the same people who have to give the shot everywhere. We're relying on each other's infrastructure at the health department, pediatrician's offices, the pharmacies. The medical infrastructure is strained in this community."

A survey conducted by the county of families in every school district found 73 percent of parents preferred to have their children vaccinated at their doctor’s office, and 50 percent were open to school-based clinics. About a dozen school districts say they’re setting up clinics, and McMahon says they could start next week once the vaccine arrives. He says districts will provide families with details about dates, times, and locations. McMahon says it appears there will be better participation than they originally anticipated, which bodes well for children.

"What we've seen with the 0 to 11 year old demographic...and you do have cases in children under five. But it's been about 20 percent of our cases almost every day. You're talking about providing a much needed layer of immunity into that demographic, and that certainly should help drive our data down."

The first school-based clinic, in partnership with Wegmans and Kinney Drugs, will be held for Syracuse city school children at the Institute of Technology on Adams Street on Saturday morning. They will return next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3 to 7. District officials will be sending registration links to families.

The county will hold first vaccination clinics for 5 to 11 year olds the next two Mondays and Fridays from 1 to 3 pm at the Civic Center. All appointments are full as of this writing, but here's where you can register.

Here are the school districts that have told the county they're ready to host clinics. McMahon says any district that wants a clinic will get one. Districts will be in touch with families about dates, times, and locations:

  • Syracuse City
  • East Syracuse-Minoa
  • West Genesee
  • Marcellus
  • LaFayette
  • Jamesville-DeWitt
  • Fayetteville-Manlius
  • Tully
  • North Syracuse
  • Liverpool
  • Baldwinsville
  • All Saints
  • Montessori
Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at