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WNY superintendents talk about vaccination rates in schools

The districts we checked in with say teen vaccination rates are lower than in other age groups.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — On Tuesday, the governor talked more about her #VaxToSchool program.

When you break vaccination rates down by age group, the rate is the lowest in New York for 12 to 15-year-olds with 59% having received at least one dose so far. 

2 On Your Side checked in with Superintendent Mark Laurrie with Niagara Falls City Schools on Tuesday to see how the vaccination rates are there. He says they're low. We also got his thoughts about vaccine mandates.

"I think we've done a good job, the state, the county's done a good job of making the vaccine available. I'm not sure that a mandate is a right way to go,"  Mark Laurrie said. "I think that a mandate only causes more consternation, fighting, pulling kids out and away from school. We're able to so far manage well with the masks and the distancing. I encourage people to get shots, kids to get shots, but of course, that's, I think that's in the parent's right to be able to decide for their own child."

Laurrie is encouraging people to get vaccinated and says the rate is in the high 80s for staff members. 

But he says it's pretty low for students who are able to get the shots.

As far as cases go right now in Niagara Falls City schools, the majority of COVID-19 cases in students are in high school. Laurrie says that in his community, it really matters to adults where their children have access to the vaccine.

"If the vaccinations were provided by outside providers in a school, in their church, in somewhere that people feel comfortable and see familiar faces then I think it might also open the door up to more vaccinations by young people. I think we're really in a standstill. I'm not hearing a lot of kids going for it. I'm not seeing it, and as I said the proof is in the fact that our high school kids are the ones that right now by 60-percent who are the COVID positive ones," Laurrie said.

2 On Your Side also talked with Mike Cornell, the Hamburg Superintendent. He told us he thinks about half of 12 to 17-year-olds in his district are vaccinated. This is not something districts are tracking at this point because there is no mandate. Cornell stresses the decision to vaccinate your children is not made lightly and part of what their job as school leaders is is to respect that families have been thinking about it.