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Some schools try pep-rally tactics to get students vaccinated; plus the latest virus news

Some schools try pep-rally tactics to get students vaccinated; plus the latest virus news

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There are mascots, food trucks and cheerleaders. The pep rally atmosphere at a growing number of California public schools these days is not to cheer on sports teams, but rather an ambitious and urgent campaign to get COVID-19 vaccines in as many students' arms as possible before summer break. Administrators say a return to full, in-person learning in the fall depends on it.

A growing number of public schools are using mascots, food trucks and prize giveaways to create a pep-rally atmosphere aimed at encouraging students to get vaccinated against the coronavirus before summer vacation.

Districts from California to Michigan are offering free prom tickets and deploying mobile vaccination teams to schools to inoculate students 12 and up so everyone can return to classrooms in the fall. They are also enlisting students who have gotten shots to press their friends to do the same.

Officials are concerned that once school lets out, it will be even tougher to get enough teens vaccinated in time to guarantee widespread immunity on campuses.

The massive effort has just gotten underway because it was only two weeks ago that federal regulators authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15. Moderna said Tuesday that its COVID-19 vaccine strongly protects kids as young as 12, a step that could put it on track to become the second option for that age group in the U.S. Younger children are not yet eligible.

In other developments:

  • The Biden administration says many American citizens holding recently expired U.S. passports will be allowed to return home from abroad on that document until the end of year.
  • America’s housing market has grown so overheated as demand outpaces supply that prices keep hitting record highs — and roughly half of all U.S. houses are now selling above their list price. The pandemic is helping drive the market, with more people seeking out additional space and fewer homeowners willing to sell.
  • Social media influencers in France with hundreds of thousands of followers say a mysterious advertising agency offered to pay them if they agreed to smear Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine with negative fake stories.
  • Some small businesses forced to turn to online lenders for pandemic relief are making those niche players a bigger part of their financial game plan. Some are even considering dumping their traditional banks altogether.
  • The British government faced accusations Tuesday that it was reintroducing local lockdowns on the sly after it published new guidelines for eight areas of England that it says are hot spots for the coronavirus variant first identified in India.

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