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Bennett Offers To Help Vigo County Vaccination Backlog

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett says he’s ready to act as a facilitator in effort to vaccinate thousands of schoolchildren who still haven’t had their shots.

Templeton School

Photo: Daniel Robison

Terre Haute's mayor says he doesn't want schools to empty because students haven't been vaccinated, so he's offering to step into the fray.

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett says he’s ready to act as a facilitator for the Vigo County School Corporation, in effort to vaccinate thousands of children who still haven’t had their state-mandated shots.

A state law which went into effect before this school year mandates that all children in grades six through 12 must receive a series of shots before they can attend class.  But there are still thousands of students in the Vigo County School Corporation who have neither gotten those shots nor been sent home school for failing to do so.  Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said he’s seen multiple advertisements for clinics offering the vaccines, adding perhaps it’s time for him to take the lead in getting the schools into compliance.

“There are opportunities to do that; I’ve seen advertising in the paper, there’s been numerous local groups that have had these shot clinics,” Bennett said. “Maybe we need to do a better connection between the school corporation – really the families, not the corporation per se – the administration there and with our families to get them plugged into these clinics.”

Vigo County Superintendent Danny Tanoos said he’s planning free clinics at many of the corporation’s schools to get shots to the three-to-four thousand students who still need them.  Tanoos said he thinks the mayor’s role could be one of public informant.

“That’s where the mayor can step in is getting the message out to people in the community that here are the dates of the vaccinations at schools, you need to get it done,” he said.  “Because if they don’t, we will end up suspending [students].”

Tanoos says the clinics will take place after the upcoming holiday recess.  He estimates the unvaccinated students represent as much as 20-to-25 percent of the districts overall student population.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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