COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Tuesday is the last day for Columbia Public Schools and Moberly Public Schools students to receive the first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine if they want to be fully vaccinated by the first day of school on Aug. 24.
The Pfizer vaccine, which is the only COVID-19 vaccination approved for people younger than 18, requires two doses 21 days apart. Two weeks after the final dose, a person is considered fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at preventing coronavirus after two doses of the vaccine and if the individual didn't previously have the virus.
The Pfizer vaccine is only approved for students 12 or older, so elementary-age students are not eligible. That means in CPS, more than 8,000 students could start the year unvaccinated because of their age, based on last school year's enrollment.
Last year's first day enrollment numbers at CPS showed 8,411 elementary students, which is 45.7% of the 18,413 total number of students enrolled. First-day enrollment numbers last year were lower than usual because of parental concerns about COVID-19.
John Potter, who has three children enrolled in CPS ages 6, 9 and 12, said his children won't be getting vaccinated because they already have natural antibodies and he wants to wait for more research to be done on the vaccine.
"I just think there's a lot of unknowns, especially with children because they just haven't had as long of time as they have with adults," Porter said.
Sara Humm with Boone/Columbia Public Health Department said parents are encouraged to talk with their pediatricians to get all their questions answered, but the vaccines have all been tested thoroughly.
On July 12, CPS updated guidelines for its summer school students. CPS now requires students 11 years old and younger to wear masks in the classroom. Potter said this change in rules led him to take his two youngest children out of in-person summer school.
"One of the main reasons my kids are in public school is so they can interact and socialize with people in the community. And I think the masks really hamper that," Potter said.