RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – Preferred Medical Group has partnered with the Russell County School District to provide COVID-19 vaccines to students, making Russell County Schools the first district to provide students with the vaccine on campus.
Founder of Preferred Medical Group, Dr. Ritu Chandra reached out to Russell County Superintendent Brenda Coley about going to all the schools in the district and providing students with the vaccine. Dr. Chandra said she just wanted to make a difference in the community.
“We talk about this all the time, how we can set up services in the school and since the COVID pandemic started a year and a half ago, I’ve constantly been seeing patients in the south range, being involved in the testing as well as the vaccinations. We know that Russell County, Alabama, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. So I as a practicing physician in this county, I feel responsible to see how I can help to increase the vaccination rate, because I believe vaccines are the only way out of this pandemic,” Dr. Chandra said.
Coley told News 3 she was glad to partner with Dr. Chandra when she got the phone call.
“I was excited, I think this is huge for our community and for our school district. This is not mandatory for our students, but I think it’s a great opportunity for those students who are interested, to make it available. We’re a rural school district, so actually providing the opportunity on site, I think will be great and beneficial for our students. Coley said.
School officials sent flyers and emails last week informing parents and students about the opportunity. Superintendent Coley wants parents and students to know that getting the vaccine is not mandatory, but students have the opportunity to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
“We respect their choice and of course it’s not mandatory, it’s available for those students, those parents who are interested,” Coley said.
Director of Special Services for the school district, Vivan Relf said after sending out the notice, initially around 20 students signed up. Currently, a total of 22 students at the high school have received the vaccine, while 24 students in the middle school have been vaccinated. In total, 44 students in the district have now received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Since this is our first opportunity, we’re excited, but obviously we would like to see more students come out with their forms in hand so that they can get vaccinated. So our goal now is to make sure that the information is extended to everyone. Parents, family, friends, everyone in the community who would like to be vaccinated,” Relf said.
In order for students to receive the vaccine, they must get permission from their parents. Students who receive the vaccine will also get a vaccination card and an appointment slip to get their second dose. Superintendent Coley said she hopes students and parents realize how much they care.
“It shows that we are partners of our community that we do care and we are concerned about our families and we want to make sure that resources are available. That we support our community, it just shows that we care,” Coley said .
She also told News 3 she hopes the surrounding school districts follow behind Russell County Schools and provide the opportunity to get vaccinated.
The next vaccination events are:
- Sept. 9, Russell County High School
- Sept. 9, Russell Count Middle School
- Sept. 14, Dixie Elementary School
- Sept. 15, Ladonia Elementary School
- Sept. 16, Mt. Olive Primary & Intermediate
- Sept. 17, Glenwood School ( second dose)
Phenix City School District is considering partnering with Preferred Medical Group to provide vaccines to students.
For questions or concerns regarding the vaccine, call or text 334-540-7139.