Vaccine Policy Reflects Ever-Changing COVID-19 Environment

Andy Judlowe, News Editor

In the waning weeks of summer 2021, Friends Seminary mandated that all students eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine had to do so in order to attend school during the 2021-2022 school year. With the FDA and CDC gradually approving the vaccine for new age groups as research progressed, the Friends Seminary administration needed to adapt vaccination policies on the fly as younger students became eligible to get the shot. 


When the school year began, the COVID-19 vaccine was only approved for people twelve years and older, which included the whole Upper School, faculty and staff, and Middle School students ages twelve and up. Although vaccine access was limited, the administration set a clear requirement: to attend Friends this school year, students must receive their first dose soon after gaining eligibility and get their second dose three weeks after. 


Friends entered a new stage of their push for school-wide immunization when, on October 29, 2021, the FDA approved use of the Pfizer vaccine for children five to eleven years old. This cleared the remaining student body to get the vaccine, as Friends’s youngest students, kindergarteners, are all at least five years old. 


To answer parents’ questions about the vaccine, the school held a virtual Q&A session with friends parent Dr. Hina Talib, a pediatrician and expert in adolescent medicine. Once the parent body was reassured of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, Friends began the vaccine rollout, requiring all students to have received their second dose by the end of winter break. 


According to the school nurse, Tyler Troppmann, parents overcame any initial concerns about getting their children vaccinated. “It was really productive to have a conversation with some people that may be apprehensive,” Troppmann explained. “We were able to sit down and talk it over and listen to each other’s concerns, and at the end of the day I feel like most families were on board with the vaccine.” 


Troppmann also explained that getting the whole community vaccinated has played a large part in reducing COVID-19 cases at Friends. “In the last six weeks,” Troppmann said in a mid-February interview, “we’ve had a decline in all our COVID-19 numbers, and I think that is due in part to the fact that we’re fully vaccinated and more people are getting boosted.” 


Now that the booster shot has been approved for people ages twelve and up, Friends is requiring all eligible students and faculty members to get boosted by March 28th. Getting the entire student body vaccinated was an important step toward protecting the Friends community from COVID-19. Troppmann explained that getting boosted is the next key step to further protecting the Friends community from COVID-19, saying “I think boosters are a great tool to curb the virus and finally get back to a sense of normalcy that we’ve been longing for.”