For many students at John F. Kennedy High School, a recent COVID-19 vaccination clinic held at the Upper Tumon campus was their first visit to the school in more than a year.
The Department of Public Health and Social Services and the Guam Department of Education organized a vaccination clinic on the JFK campus on May 3.
The clinic offered Pfizer vaccines to students 16 and older, as well as to their family members.
Students like Lois Bisnar took advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated.
The clinic was her first visit to the school campus after a year of online learning.
"Looking around the establishment, it's nostalgic but at the same time it's not. I want to (return) immediately so there's that," she admitted, considering her future plans to return to traditional school for the incoming school year.
While face-to-face instruction has been available to students in the third and fourth quarters, not all students and their families took that option. Online learning has been the norm for thousands of students since last school year, after the governor shut down schools in March 2020. GDOE officials are working on a plan to bring all students to classrooms for traditional learning next school year.
Bisnar said she wasn't worried but excited about getting vaccinated. She said it would help her ensure the safety of her family and would allow her the option of going out in the future.
"Maybe it's just because I'm seeing a lot of people again, that's why I'm not scared at all," she said, adding the familiar atmosphere of the school campus also helped ease her nerves.
Wearing a mask and following other public health protocols are things Bisnar said she'll continue to do even after she's vaccinated.
'It was really easy'
Also receiving her first dose of the vaccine was Amara Tyquiengco, a sophomore from Okkodo High School.
Having visited the JFK school campus for Academic Challenge Bowl competitions in the previous school year, Tyquiengco returned to get vaccinated.
"(We're) thinking about having ACB over the summer," Tyquiengco said, explaining one of the factors in her decision to get vaccinated.
Tyquiengco said she intends to return next school year as a traditional school learner.
When asked if the vaccination procedure was stressful, Tyquiengco responded:"No, it was really easy."
Dianna Dizon, a junior from JFKHS who has been doing online learning, was another student back on campus for the first time in over a year.
"I just don't feel familiar going here again," the junior said. "I was just worried about seeing anyone I know."
Expressing relief following her vaccination, Dizon continued, "I'm over with everything – getting my vaccine is really important right now."
Prioritizing the availability of the vaccination services, Dizon emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated.
"I'm just glad that people are willing to be vaccinated – it's great that they're concerned about themselves."
A week before the vaccination clinic at JFK, the Guam Department of Education sent press releases to students and their family members to schedule appointments for the distribution of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Outside of using press releases, coordinators of the vaccination clinic, such as Bernabe Mutuc, contacted face-to-face students through the mail.
Working hand-in-hand with the school counselors, 12 nurses were assigned to do the pre-vaccination assessment with the help of eight social workers from GDOE, while 10 registered and licensed practitioner nurses were in charge to vaccinate.
Mutuc, a JFK health counselor, highlighted the importance of reaching out to students. They had 241 people registered via their online appointment system. He said the campus clinic also provides parents and students an avenue to talk to health officials about any concerns they may have with the vaccines.
"Although the vaccine is not required but is recommended, they have that peace of mind of what the vaccine is about," he said.
Mutuc said they're planning additional school-site clinics to make it easier for those who will have to return for their second dose. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, the second of which has to be administered about 21 days after the first.
He said the school and DPHSS has a set date of May 24.
"We're trying to vaccinate seniors that need the vaccinations (and) open it – not just for JFK – but to all the high schools that need it."