Close-up of bottles of COVID-19 vaccine

Nelsonville-York City Schools announced Friday that it would pay $100 to each student who receives two doses of coronavirus vaccine, starting with a clinic to be held next Wednesday, Sept. 15, at Nelsonville-York High School.

The announcement was posted on the Nelsonville-York City Schools Superintendent Facebook page around noon on Friday.

The stipends will be paid from the district’s federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund grant provided through the CARES Act in March 2021.

“The stipend will be paid after the second dose is received,” the Facebook post stated.

The Athens City-County Health Department will come to the high school at 11:30 a.m. next Wednesday to administer the Pfizer vaccine. Students under 18 must submit a signed consent form by the end of the school day on Tuesday to participate.

The second clinic has not been scheduled yet, but will occur about three weeks later, Nelsonville-York Superintendent Rick Edwards said.

“Any opportunity to get kids vaccinated helps us remain in in-person learning,” he said.

About the vaccine

The Pfizer vaccine — which received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on August 23 — uses a technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA. With traditional vaccines, a weakened or dead germ is injected into the body; when the immune system attacks the invader, it creates antibodies that will fight off future infections.

While generally safe to administer, traditional vaccines carry some risks. Those that use weakened germs can cause the actual illness, particularly in people whose immune systems aren’t strong. They also involve creating large quantities of a pathogen, which is risky for the people who manufacture them.

mRNA vaccines are a type of gene therapy. Instead of an actual germ, mRNA vaccines deliver only a bit of its genetic code with instructions for making a protein. When the vaccine is injected into arm muscle, the muscle cells “read” the instructions and make copies of the protein. The cells then break down the mRNA because they don’t need the instructions any more. (The mRNA never interacts with the cell’s DNA, so it can’t alter it.) The immune system attacks the invading protein, which creates antibodies against the germ that the protein came from.

Compared with traditional vaccines, mRNA vaccines can be produced more quickly and with fewer errors, making them less expensive to manufacture. (It takes six months to produce each year’s flu vaccine; the Pfizer vaccine currently requires half that time and could be down to 2 months by year’s end.)

Corinne Colbert is the Editor at AthensNEWS.

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