By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – More and more Sacramento area school districts are signing on to help vaccinate younger teens, in an effort to boost numbers on the way to herd immunity.

Noah Negrete checked getting his COVID vaccine off his agenda on Wednesday. With his eyes closed, it looked to be tougher than a test. Many in the room, just like him, cringing at the sight of a needle. Still, relieved their first dose is done.

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“It just felt a little bit safer,” Negrete said.

Safer, he believes, because it was done at his school.

“Students had the chance to get out of class and walk here to get vaccinated,” said Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, of the Sacramento City Unified School District.

He calls it important to open district clinics like theirs at Hiram Johnson, providing easy access to students – and to the entire community 12 and older.

The district partnered with local healthcare providers to make it happen.

“People walked the campus to make sure the flow would work,” Aguilar said.

It’s a flow the district hoped would provide comfort and convenience.

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“We live right across the street,” said Jasmine Allen, who showed up with her son to both get their vaccines. “I was waiting for this site to open up because it was more convenient.”

Superintendent Aguilar says the district has been doling out doses every Friday at the Serna Center, but this was the first clinic on a school campus. The district has given out more than 17,000 shots over the last few months.

All inside the school on Wednesday were eager to get back to normal.

“I just wanted it to be safe,” said Jaxon Bidana. “It’s for my grandparents – so they can come visit.”

These clinics target the younger populations in an effort to bring society closer to reaching herd immunity, but how close is that goal?

“I think we’re in a really great place now. In terms of getting that coveted herd immunity, I don’t know that we’re going to get there totally,” said Dr. Dean Blumberg of UC Davis Health. The pediatric infectious disease expert said many factors contribute to more questions than answers – such as how long immunity may last.

Nationally, more and more scientists have been saying it may be time to give up the goal of herd immunity and call it hard to calculate. But Dr. Blumberg says every shot is still important in helping us combat COVID.

“We know that the only people who are most vulnerable are those who are unvaccinated,” Dr. Blumberg said. “We’re seeing recent upticks in this age group.”

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As more of the younger population sees mild infections, the efforts to vaccinate teens across the region ramp up for this newly eligible group as the push for immunity continues.

Heather Janssen