The state of New Hampshire currently has one of the highest vaccination rates against COVID-19 in the country. This week, several dozen Holderness School students will be added to that total.
Starting on Tuesday, Holderness students over the age of 16 began receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the only vaccine currently approved for people under the age of 18. Those vaccinations come after New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu announced, in late March, that individuals ages 16 and older would be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42 percent of New Hampshire residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – the highest such rate in the nation. In the country as a whole, 33 percent of the population have received at least one shot.
“The timing of these vaccinations couldn't be better because we wanted to be able to administer both doses of the vaccine during the school year,” said Associate Head of School Tobi Pfenninger. “Every student who receives the vaccine will be fully vaccinated by mid-May.”
Although Holderness is not requiring students to get a vaccine, many have opted to receive one. Less than a day after vaccine registrations opened, 116 Holderness students had signed up for a vaccination. That quick response was typical of a student body that spent the last year wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and reporting unusual symptoms to the Health Center, says Director of Health Services Karen Penny, RN. “The kids have really stepped up and taken responsibility for their health and the health of their peers,” Ms. Penny said.
The ability for Holderness students to receive vaccinations offers a sense of hope, and the promise of the return to a level of normalcy that has been missing since the start of the pandemic.
“After seven months of asking teenagers to follow many health and safety COVID protocols, we are excited to plan some fun year-end events where students can safely celebrate with their friends, teachers, and families,” Mrs. Pfenninger said.
Just as Holderness School nears completion on its new 35,000 square-foot math and science building this spring, the school is set to embark on a series of transformative upgrades to its Nordic trails and athletic fields.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last spring, educators knew the following school year would pose unprecedented challenges for students and faculty. That concern prompted Holderness to forego regular Saturday morning classes - at least for the 2020-21 school year – in favor of programming that supported students’ social and emotional wellbeing.
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