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Former teacher dodges jail time after injecting teen with COVID vaccine without parental consent

 A former New York high school teacher avoids jail time after being accused of administering a COVID vaccine dose to a teenager without parental consent last year, Fox News Digital reported.

Laura Parker Russo, 55, admitted to injecting a 17-year-old boy with a Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine dose without his parents' knowledge at her residence in Long Island, New York. The teen, a friend of Russo's son, told his parents, who decided to report Russo to authorities.

Russo, a former science teacher at Herricks High School, testified that on December 31, 2021, she had asked a pharmacist for empty vials to use as Christmas ornaments. Instead, the pharmacist gave her four extra doses that were about to expire.

Neither the pharmacist nor the pharmacy that supplied Russo with the vaccine doses has been identified.

Following the accusation against Russo, Herricks Public Schools Superintendent Fino Celano stated that the teacher was "removed from the classroom and reassigned." Russo was later terminated from her position.

"Clearly, I should not have administered the J&J vaccine to anyone when I returned home with the vial containing four viable doses, but my son's friend said he was not vaccinated and wanted to be vaccinated," Russo said in the statement. "I thought he was 18, and I did not know that the J&J vaccination had not been approved for persons under 18. What I did was an egregious lapse of judgment that I deeply regret, but I did it to help a young man not to harm him."

Initially, the high school teacher faced the possibility of up to four years in prison when she was slapped with a felony charge of unauthorized practice of profession. Instead, Russo pleaded guilty on Friday to a misdemeanor count of attempting the unauthorized practice of medicine and a count of disorderly conduct.

The plea deal allowed Russo to avoid jail time, and she was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and placed on one year of interim probation. Judge Howard Sturim also ordered Russo to attend therapy twice weekly and to have no contact with the teen boy.

Should Russo fulfill the community service requirement, her misdemeanor charge will be vacated.

According to Brendan Brosh, a spokesperson for the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, the plea deal was offered to Russo "based on the defendant's long-standing ties to the community and her lack of a criminal record."

"It's nothing that was unexpected," Gerard McCloskey, Russo's attorney, told Newsday. "This is a disposition that we've discussed at length with both the court and the DA's Office. I think that we felt that it was in the interest of justice as well as in my client's best interest."

"As long as she's successful with what the judge laid out that she has to do, she'll have a non-criminal disposition," he continued. "She'll have a conviction for disorderly conduct, which is a violation, not a misdemeanor or a felony."

The teen boy's mother, Lisa Doyle, told Newsday she is unsure how to feel about the plea deal.

"I've known her for almost 20 years," Doyle said. "I don't think she understands that what she did was not right. Do I think she needs required jail time? I'm very mixed on that one. … But I'm glad it's over."

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