PHOENIX, ARIZ. – Across the country, states are expanding their COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to 16- and 17-year-olds as part of President Biden’s plan to make the jab available to the general public by April 19.
High school is typically filled with memorable moments, but a lot of students have been missing out because of the pandemic. A 17-year-old Arizona high school senior, Camille Kerber, has been learning remotely for over a year. She says her school plays and musicals were canceled halfway through rehearsals, as well as several other events.
“It’s just been really hard, and just being a little bit isolated kind of all the time has just been really difficult,” Kerber told Fox News. “We have had a lot of missing things that we are just really, really, really mourning the loss of, so many experiences that we wish we had.”
Now that the coronavirus vaccine is available to those 16 years old and older, she says there’s hope to have at least a normal ending to her senior year, including an in-person prom and graduation.
“We’re all going to be walking, which is super exciting, but our families are going to have it livestreamed to them on various parts of our campus so that they can keep everyone spread out, but we get to walk, we get to be proud of ourselves and that’s fun,” Kerber said.
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After several studies, Pfizer announced its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and 100% effective in preventing the virus in those aged 12 to 15, and about 95% effective for those 16 and older.
In Stamford, Connecticut, health care providers are hosting a two-day mass vaccination event specifically to get high school seniors vaccinated.
“We’re hoping that they’ll bring banners and really turn this into a special event for them. You know last year’s seniors didn’t get to do these rites of passage and we’re hoping that this group of seniors, although this year has been very different, this event will be something that not many other seniors will ever get to remember but this will be a very special part of their senior year experience,” said Amy Taylor, vice president of Community Health Center, Inc.’s Western Region.
“From there, if we can get the second dose of the vaccine to them, they’ll be able to attend proms, graduations and really have a more normal end of their senior year”.
Meanwhile, some universities are making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for on-campus learning in the fall. Rutgers University in New Jersey and Northeastern in Boston are some of the first to do so.
As far as high schools go, it may be too early to mandate anything. The Phoenix Union High School District said that, for now, it will keep things optional. They’re one of the largest high school districts in the United States, with 21 schools and more than 28,000 students covering 220 square miles.
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“Right now we are just going to strongly encourage it, we don’t at this point, believe that we will require it. Part of that is that we were not quite sure that there will be full-scale accessibility by next August,” said Dr. Chad Gestson, Phoenix Union High School District superintendent.
Currently, those aged 16 and 17 can only get the Pfizer vaccine, as the other two – Moderna and Johnson and Johnson – are still trailing their effect on children.
Fox News’ Sthefany Rosales contributed to this report.