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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — All Missourians age 16-and-up are now eligible to get the COVID vaccine. Many clinics in the metro have plenty of appointments available. 

Those at highest risk, including senior citizens and essential workers, are still the biggest target. 
But now with all Missourians 16 and older qualifying, experts say there’s another critical group who could really slow COVID’s spread by getting vaccinated. 

John-Michael Tacker is rolling up his sleeves, getting his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 

“It’s been a rough year for all of us,” Tacker said. 

The 28-year-old medical technology student is just now eligible to get the shot, after Missouri opened up vaccines to all residents 16 and older. He’s thankful and ready to see loved ones in Texas again. 
“It’ll be nice to finally get to travel and see them and not have to worry about all the other stuff that comes along with it. It’ll be good to hug them again,” Tacker said. 

A clinic at Smith-Hale Middle School in the Hickman-Mills School District only saw about 200 appointments Friday, but could book many more. The Kansas City Health Department is hopeful with expanded eligibility, more high-risk patients, along with young adults most likely to spread COVID, will sign-up. 

“If you’ve been vaccinated, talk other people into being vaccinated. One, it’ll protect you more and also, you’ll protect friends and other loved ones by getting them to come and be vaccinated,” Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City Health Department, said.

Hickman Mills Schools are glad to help be part of the solution. This is the first week all students have been back in classrooms with hybrid learning, and it comes after a tough year of mostly online learning and losing several staffers to COVID-19.

“It has been extremely emotionally draining for our staff and our community because we had a number of staff pass away due to COVID in the fall and even administrators that passed. There are staff I’ve never even met as a new superintendent to the district and they passed away,” Hickman Mills superintendent Yaw Obeng said. 

Obeng said all teachers wanting the shot are now vaccinated. And soon, they’ll be offering opportunities for students. 

“If there’s community spread, it makes it very difficult for us to have a regular school, face-to-face schooling and people need to make that connection in terms of sooner we can get a low level of spread, the sooner we can have more of regular programs we have in school functions.  So you need to do your part in terms of contributing to that success we’ll have starting school next year,” Obeng said. 

There are two big drive-up clinics in the KC area Saturday, one through Swope Health and another in Grandview.  At last check, both still had appointments available. 

The Kansas City Health Department is also planning to offer evening and weekend vaccine hours soon to help get as many people the shot at coming in as possible. You can book appointments online.

If you need assistance booking, you can also call the city’s 311 line to register. The health department may also soon open its clinics to some walk-ins.