Columbia Public Schools started Tuesday a series of in-school coronavirus vaccination clinic for high school students old enough to get the shot.

For now, one coronavirus vaccine, from Pfizer, has been approved for use in people as young as 16. That could change soon, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to give emergency approval for the Pfizer vaccine to be given to kids ages 12-15 sometime next week.

According to Pfizer, the vaccine was ‘extremely effective’ in younger kids in a recent clinical trial and the company found there were no symptomatic infections in children aged 12-15 years old. Clinical trial participants also had strong antibody responses and didn’t report having any serious side effects from the vaccine.

This broadened vaccination age could help get the U.S. to reach COVID-19 herd immunity, which is reported to be around 70% according to the Mayo Clinic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 147 million coronavirus vaccines have been given out in the United States, which equates to almost 45% of the population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. Nearly a third of the population is finished with its coronavirus vaccinations.

On Tuesday, the Columbia Public School District began coronavirus vaccinations at Battle High School to vaccinate students who are at least 16 years old. Clinics are scheduled Wednesday at Rock Bridge High School, Thursday at Douglass High School and CORE and Friday at Hickman High School.

Students need to have a signed consent form to receive shots at the school clinics.

CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said Monday that many CPS parents like the clinics.

“Many parents have accessed either community vaccination clinics or have gone out of town, myself included. We drove to Sedalia for our two kids,” Stiepleman said. “You have a large group of ‘we’d like to have the vaccine but we don’t know exactly how to do it or navigating the different systems is challenging’ … it is available at our schools similar to the flu vaccines.”

According to the state vaccination dashboard, just under 4 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been given out in Missouri. Boone County is currently the most-vaccinated jurisdiction in the state with 44.4% of the population receiving at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Just over one-third of the Boone County population has completed vaccination.

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