The Florida Department of Health in Alachua County on Thursday held its first vaccine clinics at Buchholz High School and Gainesville High School.
In order for students to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, they are required to get their parents’ permission.
Buchholz Principal Kevin Purvis said he immediately knew that offering the vaccine during the regular school day was the right thing to do.
“We wanted to bring this opportunity to the school because if we can get more students vaccinated, it will help our community. Just being able to assist our students and families to help them feel good is a big plus for Buchholz,” Purvis said.
Purvis said he is hoping school will return back to normal next year as more students become vaccinated and the number of positive COVID-19 cases continue to decrease.
“We want to get school back to normal next year,” Purvis said. “So many kids have missed out on the true high school experience; not just academically, socially. Only a small percentage of students have been able to be involved whether that’s athletics, band or extracurricular. Missing out on all of that makes developing school spirit and pride much more difficult.”
Trevor Godwin, 18, a Buchholz senior, said he got the vaccine to protect everyone, but mainly to protect his brother who had suffered two collapsed lungs this past year.
“If my brother gets COVID, it would be very difficult for him to get through that and he might not even make it. I saw him in the hospital when he had the collapsed lungs the first and the second time — it’s just not something I want to go through again,” Godwin said.
Iman Vilmenay, 16, Buchholz High School junior, said COVID has taken a big toll on her life since 3 people in her family are at high-risk.
“I’ve pretty much been in isolation since the very beginning of COVID, so March of last year. I’ve been totally online and that’s really not the best way to learn for anyone. My grades have actually slipped,” Vilmenay said.
In order to protect her family, she had to leave the school band and her friends behind.
“Now that I’m vaccinated, I’m really excited to come back to school,” she said.
A total of nearly 300 students at Buchholz and Gainesville High School received their first dose this week. Other high schools in Alachua County will be holding their first dose vaccine clinics next week. Buchholz and Gainesville High School students will be able to receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on May 13.