The Marion School District is planning a pair of community vaccination clinics this summer, with the hope of getting as many people as possible vaccinated against Covid-19 before the start of the 2021-22 school year. The clinics will be open to anyone in the community age 12 and up.

The first clinic will be held from 1-6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 30. The second clinic will be from 1-6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 14. Both events will be held at the Patriot Arena, located at 801 Carter Drive.

The vaccinations, which will utilize the Pfizer vaccine, are completely free. Parents must accompany anyone under age 18. The Marion School District is partnering with the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, East Arkansas Family Health Center, and the Arkansas Department of Health to host the clinics.

Several incentives will be available to participants at the clinic. All participants will be eligible to enter a door prize and win $100 or $50 gift cards at both events. Each family who attends will be given a bag of groceries, and all children 18 and under will receive three days' worth of meals. Additionally, participants 18 and up will receive $20 scratch-off lottery tickets, and participants 12 and up will receive gift cards from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

“As many others have said about the Covid-19 vaccine, this is our best shot,” said Dr. Glen Fenter, Marion superintendent. “The vaccine is safe. It’s effective. It’s the best weapon we have to get us back to a normal life and a normal school year.”

Marion will start school on Monday, July 26, with the implementation of its new hybrid calendar. The district announced in May that all learning will be in-person during the 2021-22 school year. There will be no requirements for students to have the Covid-19 vaccine, but Fenter said it is highly encouraged for those who are eligible.

“We are looking forward to having all students back in classrooms this fall,” Fenter said. “We know our students learn best when they are physically present in a classroom, with a dedicated, talented teacher leading the effort. And we know the more students who are vaccinated, the safer it will be for everyone in our schools.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have determined that the Covid-19 vaccine is safe for anyone 12 and up. Current safety testing of the vaccines for children ages 2 and up may lead to authorization of one or more of the vaccines for younger children in the months ahead.

Health officials are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as they can. Although Covid-19 in children is usually milder than in adults, some kids can get very sick and have complications or long-lasting symptoms that affect their health and well-being. The virus can cause death in children, although this is rarer than for adults.

Like adults, children also can transmit the coronavirus to others if they are infected, even when no symptoms are present. The Covid-19 vaccine protects against this potential harm to the child and others, including family members and friends who may be susceptible.

The clinics on June 30 and July 14 are first-dose clinics. Clinics for second doses will be held on July 21 and August 4.

 The following is additional information about the Covid-19 vaccine:

 Covid-19 vaccines are safe

  • Covid-19 vaccines were developed using science that has been around for decades.
  • Covid-19 vaccines are not experimental. They went through all the required stages of clinical trials. Extensive testing and monitoring have shown that these vaccines are safe and effective.
  • Covid-19 vaccines have received and continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. 

 Covid-19 vaccines are effective

  • Covid-19 vaccines are effective. They can keep you from getting and spreading the virus that causes Covid-19.
  • Covid-19 vaccines also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get Covid-19.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19.

 Once you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing more

  • After you are fully vaccinated for Covid-19, you can resume many activities that you did before the pandemic. You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
  • People are not considered fully vaccinated until 2 weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, or 2 weeks after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Covid-19 vaccine. You should keep using all the tools available to protect yourself and others until you are fully vaccinated.

 Covid-19 vaccination is a safer way to help build protection

  • Get vaccinated regardless of whether you already had Covid-19. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from Covid-19.
  • Covid-19 is still a threat to unvaccinated people. Some people who get COVID-19 can become severely ill, which could result in hospitalization, and some people have ongoing health problems several weeks or even longer after getting infected. Even people who did not have symptoms when they were infected can have these ongoing health problems.

Immunity after Covid-19 vaccination

  • There is still a lot we are learning about Covid-19 vaccines and CDC is constantly reviewing evidence and updating guidance. We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated.
  • What we do know is that Covid-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people.

If you get Covid-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a Covid-19 vaccine is a safer choice.