Phoenix Union High School District hosting COVID-19 vaccination events amid delta variant-fuelled surge

Amid the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19, vaccination numbers are up in the Valley, as well as in other places across the country.

On Aug. 7, a vaccination event at Metro Tech High School in Phoenix drew hundreds, much more than what school officials were expecting.

"Just take care of us, and then other people around us," said Edgar Diaz.

"Helps students or parents know that their children are safe," said 16-year-old Adria Diaz.

"This is just another layer of protection, just to protect them and everybody else that they're in contact with," said Adrian Rodriguez. He was vaccinated in February, but attended the event to get his kids vaccinated.

Event ran out of vaccine twice

Metro Tech High School is part of the Phoenix Union High School District. The district has been giving out vaccines since they were first available in January. The event on Aug. 7 was one of their bigger events. School District Superintendent Chad Geston said they had anticipated having just around 150 to 200 people show up, but ended up surpassing 700 vaccinations.

"We ran out of vaccines within the hour. Brought in a whole, ran out again. Brought in even more," said Geston.

Superintendent Geston days he believes the delta variant is one of the main reasons why so many more people are now flocking to get vaccinated.

"School is back, and parents want to make sure their students are safe, but also the delta variant is causing a lot If fear in our community. People know that vaccines are the number one mitigation strategy," said Superintendent Geston.

District organizing other vaccination events

Since January, the Phoenix Union High School District has delivered 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for anyone 12 and older. The district has organized a rotating schedule, allowing each high school to deliver the vaccines directly to students on campus.

"If you're under 18, you do need parent permission. Just a form," said Superintendent Geston.

Some school districts in other parts of the country are taking things even further. In Hawaii, the state is mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for students taking part in high school sports, while California is requiring all teachers and school staff members to be vaccinated, or submit to weekly testing.

District implements mask mandate despite state ban

Recently, Phoenix Union High School District has made headlines as a result of a decision to require its students to wear masks. That mandate will defy state orders should it continue into September, when Governor Doug Ducey’s law banning mask mandates in schools goes into effect.

Related: Phoenix Union High School District reinstates mask mandate

The district's mask mandate is the target of a lawsuit filed by a Metro Tech High School teacher by the name of Douglas Hester. Judge Randall Warner scheduled both sides to give full arguments on Aug. 13.

Related: Phoenix teacher files lawsuit to stop school mask mandate amid ongoing debate

Other school districts in the Phoenix area, like Phoenix Elementary School District and Osborn School District, have also implemented mask mandates. Both districts are made up mostly of elementary schools, where kids are too young to get vaccinated.

Phoenix Union High School District officials say they are following CDC recommendations, especially in light of the more contagious delta variant.

LIST: Arizona school districts with mask requirements

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COVID-19 resources

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
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  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

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