Even as parts of North Texas reach herd immunity, there is an effort underway to encourage parents to allow their school-aged children ages 12 and older to get COVID-19 vaccinations before the start of school.
With many school districts going back to school on Aug. 16, the window for being fully vaccinated before the start of school is closing.
It is recommended that these students get their first dose of vaccine before July 12.
“I was the one person in my friend group who hadn’t gotten it yet,” Luis Hernandez said.
He got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday at the Jefferson-Oak Cliff Clinic in Dallas.
He went with his dad, Raul Hernandez, who’s a third-grade teacher at Trinity Heights Talented and Gifted in Dallas ISD.
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“Kids getting vaccinated is going to give parents and students peace of mind. As a teacher during this school year, you had kids with masks all year long. They had shields in front of them. And you want that gone so kids can hear instructions better, be able to talk to the class, and be able to be understood,” Hernandez said.
Anna Romero goes to Texas Woman’s University and said she was finally ready to get her first dose Friday.
“Mostly I’m a procrastinator, so I kind of did it, then I rescheduled,” Romero said.
Romero and Hernandez each received free tickets to Six Flags after they received their shots -- a bonus from Dallas County Health and Human Services.
DCHHS said it planned to give out 16,000 free tickets -- until they run out.
“I wasn’t expecting it. I thought I would just get the card and information, but this is a good surprise,” Hernandez said.
“The information is in and the vaccine is safe. There’s no reason not to get it,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “The Delta variants that are out there are pretty scary. We want to protect our kids from the variants and protect ourselves from those variants. There’s no reason to wait. Get vaccinated just as soon as you can.”
Jenkins’ 15-year-old daughter, Madeleine, got the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as she was added to the eligibility group. She said she now feels safe returning to school.
“If I wasn’t vaccinated, I probably wouldn’t feel safe to be around that many people because I would be scared I would get COVID or give it to the people around me,” she said. “Since I’m vaccinated and the majority of my friends are, I feel like I can hang out.”
According to county health officials, Dallas County has obtained herd immunity to the COVID-19 virus. Hitting herd immunity in Dallas County meant 80% of the population either had been vaccinated against the virus or had been already infected with the virus and therefore had antibodies to prevent subsequent infection.
“Although we’ve reached herd immunity, a lot of that is from people having been sick,” Jenkins said. “That immunity goes away after two or three months, so in order for us to keep herd immunity we got to keep vaccinating people.”
Parents are encouraged to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control on Friday issued new guidelines that teachers and students who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks at school.
Students who are two and older who have not been vaccinated should wear masks, the CDC said.
That includes most elementary school children because vaccinations are not approved for children under 12.
Parents now face a decision on whether to send their children to school with a mask -- even if they have received a shot.
"It seems like every day a different recommendation is coming out," said Lauren Sevak, a mother of six from Frisco. "It's a tough situation."
NBC 5's Scott Gordon contributed to this report.