How Schools Can Support COVID-19 Vaccination
Schools and school districts are consistently a large part of the daily life for many American children and families and uniquely positioned to teach about, link to, or even deliver COVID-19 vaccines.
On this page, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides action steps school leaders can take to support COVID-19 vaccine uptake and improve health literacy among staff, students, and families in their community. Which actions school districts decide to take will depend on state and local policies, health service infrastructure, and available resources.
Together, we can help our country reach COVID-19 vaccination goals.
1. Set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at your school.
School- located vaccination (SLV) clinics can provide a familiar and convenient location for eligible teachers and students to get vaccinated, while also potentially serving other eligible groups in the surrounding community, including family members of students.
- Schools with school-based clinics or nurses’ stations may offer vaccination throughout the school day. With the right planning and communication, SLVs can also be run during summer months when schools are closed or as part of a broader back-to-school efforts.
- SLV clinics may also offer routine childhood vaccinations for students who have fallen behind on routine vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- “Considerations for Planning School-Located Vaccination Clinics” provides more information and resources such as sample letters to parents, tips for working with schools, and other considerations.
- School districts that want to host SLV clinics should begin by reaching out to their local public health department. See the section below on building partnerships.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) partnered with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to hold 250 SLV clinics across the district using their school-based health centers or mobile clinics to reach COVID-19 vaccine eligible middle and high school students before the summer of 2021. Visit the LAUSD website for an example of how to communicate with familiesexternal icon.
East Hartford High School in Connecticut allowed COVID-19 vaccine eligible students a “skip day” to miss class and be vaccinated at a large clinic run by a community health center on two runways of the local airport. By partnering with the Capital Region Educational Council (CREC), the school was able to bus more than 1,000 students—with permission from their parents—to be vaccinated. Health experts from the community health center also answered COVID-19 vaccination questions from parents in a virtual town hall.
2. Partner up on COVID-19 vaccine-related activities in your community.
Establishing partnerships can be helpful for many COVID-19 vaccine-related activities. Partners may include local health departments, municipal governments and local healthcare providers, as well as local businesses, churches, sports teams, community-based organizations, unions, and media companies.
If you are not already working with your local health department, federally qualified health centers, large pediatric practices, pharmacists or other medical, health, or academic institutions, consider reaching out for assistance.
- Host an SLV clinic.
- Invite a health expert to sit on the school district’s community advisory board to inform members on health issues such as COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination.
- Connect families to experts who can answer questions about COVID-19 vaccines. For example, host a virtual town hall where parents can ask local pediatricians questions.
- Inform parents through a school’s communication channels about the dates and places of COVID-19 vaccination events or on-going clinics. Send out electronic sign-up links for parents to register their child and/or themselves for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.
- Work with local health departments to help educate teachers and school staff to on how to dispel COVID-19 vaccine myths and misinformation.
- Find nursing assistance to support schools with limited access to nurses.
3. Arm school staff with resources for answering general COVID-19 vaccination questions.
It is important for school staff, including teachers and administrators, know what role they play in COVID-19 vaccine-related communication, education, and activities.
- Use teacher workshops, staff meetings, and newsletters to promote school staff involvement in COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
- Refer staff to CDC resources for teachers and staff with COVID-19 vaccination fact sheets and FAQs.
- Ask school staff to stress the importance of students getting their well child visits or check-ups with their regular healthcare provider — which include their routinely recommended vaccines that may have been missed during the pandemic.
- If you choose to run a SLV clinic, ask school nurses to help communicate about and track consent forms. Teachers can take an active role by sending emails to their students’ parents and guardians with facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and the clinic date and time.
Over the summer, regularly communicate with your staff, students, and families with up-to-date science about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.
For more information to protect your own health, as well as the health of students in your classroom, review CDC guidance for “Teachers and Staff Resuming In-Person Learning.”
4. Promote vaccine confidence among students, parents, and guardians.
“Vaccine confidence” is the trust that people have in recommended vaccines. Right now, families in your school community may be wading through a lot of information—and misinformation—to make decisions about COVID-19 vaccinations.
- Be prepared to address questions and address misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine with your students and their families by developing or sharing materials from credible sources. The CDC has developed some useful tips for talking about COVID-19 vaccines.
- Consider preparing a frequently asked question (FAQ) document about COVID-19 vaccines. Include any planned efforts to vaccinate staff, students, and their families through SVCs.
- Include COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets with other information given to parents and caregivers and added to school and school district websites.
- Encourage teachers and staff to share their COVID-19 vaccination stories on social media and/or through school. Seeing adults they trust getting the COVID-19 vaccine can spur students to talk with their families and also put their minds at ease about vaccination.
- Invite students to wear their COVID-19 vaccination stickers to school.
- Recruit a set of teachers to host a school-wide art or writing contest about COVID-19.
- Display age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccine educational posters around the school building and in classrooms.
5. Promote well-child visits for routine health needs.
Many families have been doing their part by staying at home as much as possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but as a result, many children and adolescents have missed annual wellness visits or check-ups.
CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend every child continues to receive recommended vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
School districts can do their part in promoting well child visits as an opportunity to address any other special health and development needs — especially any that arose during the pandemic such as behavior and mental health concerns. See Resources for Encouraging Routine Childhood Vaccinations for more information.
6. Make COVID-19 a teachable moment.
Teaching students is what schools and their staff do best. Discussions and lessons about COVID-19 and vaccination can be incorporated in many different subjects in age appropriate, meaningful ways.
Look for ways to include content related to COVID-19 and vaccine science into your curriculum.
- Discuss basic facts with young children about bacteria and viruses and how reduce the likelihood of infection.
- Combat COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation with lessons that build media literacy.
- Provide students with a history of pandemics and their cultural impacts.
School administrators can encourage their teachers to find and use lesson plans that fit with their curriculum and appropriate grade levels. Here are some examples:
- For grades 9-12: The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences COVID-19 Pandemic Vulnerability Index Lesson Plansexternal icon guide students as they explore various risk factors involved in COVID-19 spread and its resulting mortality, including biological, socio-economic, and environmental factors.
- For grades 9-12: PBSNews Hour’s “Invent ways to help get your community vaccinated” lesson planexternal icon equips high school students with knowledge of how the COVID-19 vaccine works and why it is important. Students can research challenges to vaccine distribution in their own communities and invent ways to get vaccines to community members who may face obstacles to vaccination.
- For grades 6-12: PBSNews Hour’s “What is the difference between mis- and disinformation? lesson planexternal icon helps students create connections between their own lives and how misinformation spreads and evaluate sources of information for the main message —and how that message is supported.
- For grades 4-8: Health World Education’s free ”Germs & Your Health” lesson planexternal icon shows students how handwashing, getting nutritious foods, and getting enough exercise and sleep can help the human body fight illness. (Also available in Spanish).
Download age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccine educational posters to use around the school building, in classrooms, and on your school social media channels.
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Teachers, School Staff, and Childcare Workers
- Key Things to Know about COVID-19 Vaccines – Official CDC guidance that can be shared with staff, families, and students on the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as how they’re developed and approved by the FDA.
- COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schoolsexternal icon (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Safe Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemicexternal icon (HealthyChildren.org)
- The Role of Schools in Strengthening Delivery of New Adolescent Vaccinationsexternal icon (Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Immunization Transition Toolkit external icon(National Association of School Nurses) – Includes newsletter articles, letters that may be sent to parents and graduating students, and other resources and information about routine vaccination during student transition to middle or high school.
- Teaching About Vaccinesexternal icon (Educators for Social Change)
- How schools can help address COVID vaccine hesitancy and promote health equity in COVID vaccination effortsexternal icon (GettingSmart.com)