By Lindsey Kundel, Director of Communication & Marketing
On Friday, October 1, Taipei American School was able to provide COVID-19 vaccines on our campus to consenting middle and upper school students as part of a larger governmental vaccination program aimed at increasing the vaccination rate of the younger demographic in Taiwan.
Students who were born on or before September 1, 2009 were eligible to take part, and their families had to complete a governmental consent form by September 13.
Students in the upper school were scheduled to receive their vaccines between 7:30 am and 11:30 AM. Middle school students received their vaccines after lunch. Both divisions adjusted content and activities to ensure that if students were not feeling well after the vaccine that they would not miss essential material.
TAS had professional medical personnel on hand to assist with and ensure the well-being of each child. The process for vaccination included verifying student names, taking temperatures, and a brief evaluation by a doctor before receiving a vaccine behind a privacy screen.
After the 30-minute observation window, students could return to class unless they felt unwell.
Head of School Dr. Grace Cheng Dodge said that she was "very happy" that the Taiwan government matched TAS with Yang Ming Hospital to provide vaccines to eligible students.
Middle School Principal Josh Budde echoed that sentiment. "I'm so pleased that we are able to provide this vaccination to our children," said Budde. "We know that this is something that many of you have waited a long time to receive."
Upper School Principal Andrew Lowman agreed with both and stressed to families that TAS would do everything it could to take care of its children. "Please know that many people have been working and preparing in advance of this day to make it as smooth of a process as possible," said Lowman.
During the event, students were required to leave their belongings and cell phones in a designated place in order to prevent them from taking or posting photos of other students on social media in violation of their medical privacy.
Several students voiced a healthy amount of anxiety in the face of receiving the vaccine, but many more voiced an appreciation for the opportunity to be vaccinated, and specifically to be vaccinated in a familiar setting like their well-known and loved school gymnasium.
In addition to medical personnel from Yang Ming Hospital, the TAS health, administrative and counseling teams, along with employee volunteers from around the school, spent much of the day in the gym caring for students before, during, and after they received their vaccine.
Upper school psychologist Sherri Grande described the event as "historic," noting that when she was growing up, it was commonplace for vaccinations to take place at school. She acknowledged that this is not the norm nowadays, but expressed both happiness and gratitude for being able to support our students in yet another way to keep them safe.
Grande said that the only slight snafu under her watch was that the relaxing background music playing in the morning at first sounded like "elevator music." She said that Dr. Long quickly changed the music in the gym to more cheerful, student-friendly tunes, and it was smooth sailing from there.
The school will work closely with the government regarding plans for students' second COVID-19 vaccine, and will release this information to the community as soon as it is available.
The COVID-19 vaccine is not currently required to attend Taipei American School, but if students have received full vaccinations, the Health Office encourages families to submit that health data to its office in order to keep up-to-date vaccination records for students.