Time is running out for many eligible U.S. students to get fully vaccinated before schools reopen (subscription)

By: | July 8, 2021

School may still seem blissfully far off for American students in the midst of summer. But for many who are eligible, time may be running out for a back-to-school necessity: getting fully vaccinated against the coronavirus before classes resume.

Many of the country’s more than 13,000 districts, especially in the South and Southwest, plan to start the 2021-22 school year well before Labor Day. Completing a course of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, the only vaccine now federally authorized for 12- to 17-year-olds, takes at least five weeks for the two shots to be administered and full protection to be reached. In many of those early-starting districts, students would need to get their first dose in the next few days to be fully immune in time.

In the Hamilton County School District in Tennessee, the first day of school is scheduled for Aug. 12. Counting back from then, students would have to get their first shot no later than July 8th to be fully protected by opening day.

Cody Patterson, a spokesman for the district, which encompasses Chattanooga and serves 45,000 students, said recently that while vaccinations are not mandatory for the new school year, the district was making clear to parents “that we believe vaccination is a key strategy to keeping school open.”

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