His name is lost to history, and his Minneapolis elementary school has been converted into condominiums. But on a May afternoon in 1955, one tough little guy (shown in photo at left) and his classmates were on the front lines of what would be a historic public health victory — vanquishing polio, a virus that had terrified generations of parents.

The immunization clinic at the former Bremer School in the castle-like building at 1214 Lowry Avenue was part of a broader effort to protect kids as quickly as possible with the newly available vaccine. Enlisting schools made eminent sense. That's where kids were, the buildings were already a convenient hub, and it ensured that those whose families couldn't afford a doctor visit wouldn't be left behind.

School vaccination events — with parental consent, of course — continued to play a crucial role in childhood immunizations for the next few decades. Their time has come again in the face of a new challenge — COVID-19 — and the urgent need to swiftly vaccinate elementary school-aged children to protect them and their communities against the coronavirus.

Kids ages 5 to 11 aren't currently eligible for the COVID vaccine, though ages 12 to 17 are eligible for the Pfizer shots. But the younger age group could get the go-ahead in early November.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer COVID vaccine for ages 5 to 11 this week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still needs to sign off, but an influential advisory committee takes up the question on Tuesday and Wednesday. If the panel greenlights this age group, authorization would likely happen swiftly.

This step would be welcome. But it also would require a massive follow-up in Minnesota and elsewhere to get shots into arms. Action is urgent with the imminent arrival of winter weather and the holidays, both of which create the crowded indoor conditions facilitating viral spread.

Numbers from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) illustrate the logistical challenge. The state has about 457,000 students enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade. That's a good estimate for the number of kids that could be newly eligible.

A vaccination campaign with an all-of-the-above approach is necessary. It's commendable that Gov. Tim Walz has rolled out such a plan in advance of the expected 5 to 11 age group authorization. Minnesota will have multiple access points for families, including pharmacies and medical providers. The state's vaccination site at the Mall of America is also tripling its capacity to serve 5- to 11-year-olds. The immunization will continue to be provided at no cost for all.

The Walz plan also sensibly includes working as a partner with schools to host vaccination clinics. A news release said this could lead to "at least 20 school-based vaccination clinics in high-need areas," though no further details were available.

A state survey of schools also indicated broad interest in holding COVID vaccination events. Of the 223 districts and charters responding, 177 indicated they were interested, an MDE spokeswoman said. Clearly, there's still more work to do on this front, with 326 public independent K-12 districts and 173 charter school districts in the state.

Schools already are stretched by staff shortages, and holding a vaccination event may seem daunting. But doing so is vital. "About 1.9 million children ages 5-11 years have been infected, about 9% of all U.S. cases,'' according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. "More than 8,300 have been hospitalized and 94 have died, according to federal data. The death toll in the past year puts COVID in the top 10 causes of death for this age group."

There's a long tradition of school-based vaccinations turning the tide against polio and other fearsome diseases. Another opportunity is at hand against COVID, and Minnesota schools should rise to the occasion.

Correction: An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly said that the former Bremer School building had been razed.