NASSAU COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in teens age 16 and up, but questions remain how many will receive the shot in time for summer and all its activities.
But with many gearing up for graduation, there is a campaign in Nassau County to get high schoolers vaccinated.
"I was a class of 2020 graduate," said Nicolette Carrion, with the Nassau County Youth Council. "I missed out on so much."
It's a powerful and relatable message that those involved hope will resonate as Nassau County hopes to vaccinated as many as 1,500 students over three days next week at the Nassau Community College gymnasium.
They're using youth ambassadors who will be trained to get the word out with the campaign hashtag #NoFOMO -- no more "fear of missing out" -- because too much has slipped away from them already.
"I'm going to Spellman College in the fall, and I haven't really been able to meet any of my roommates," Westbury High School Senior Alexa Boylan said.
Kids under 18 make up 23% of the U.S. population, making the campaign that much more important in the quest for herd immunity.
"I felt so good, getting my first vaccine," Carrion said. "I felt just the stress of contracting it, long term issues, that really almost melted away."
Also important is the decision expected in the coming days for emergency use authorization to be extended to kids ages 12 and up.
"Almost 2,300, zero cases of coronavirus infection in the vaccinated group," said Dr. David Fagan, with Cohen Children's Medical Center.
The campaign take place May 13-16, with a signup on the county website.
"Students who participate as ambassadors are going to get two days of community service from the county," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "Just getting vaccinated (at the site), they get six hours of community service."
They'll also get something perhaps most valuable -- Freedom.
"They'll be fully vaccinated at their graduations," Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Larry Eisenstein said. "They'll be fully vaccinated at some of their proms even."
And that's welcome news to many.
"So we could have a normal senior year again," New Hyde Park High School student Sydra Daniyal said. "We could have a normal childhood again."
It would mean not having to quarantine if they're exposed to someone with COVID or missing any other parts of a long awaited summer.
Anyone wishing to be an ambassador can email Dana.Boylan@hssnassaucountyny.us.
All youth ambassadors will receive training from the county health department. In some cases, the campaign will involve answering questions, in other cases, putting out the word on social media. The goal of 500 vaccinated students per day for each of the three days is ambitious, Curran says, but she also plans to hold a town hall to inform people on her Facebook page at 6 p.m. on May 12.
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