The push to vaccinate Houston adolescents and school staff against COVID-19 intensifies

Houston area leaders are pulling out all the stops in hopes of getting teachers, staff, and students 12-years and older vaccinated before they return to the classrooms.

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Mayor Sylvester Turner was at Kashmere High School for the first day of Super Saturday Vaccination Day events, where he and the school principal noted progress.

"I don't mind begging people to get the vaccine," Mayor Turner said. "So, I'm begging you to get the vaccine."

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"We're here to do our part as a Kashmere Ram. So, today is a good day. We've had over 45 people vaccinated on this campus since this morning," Brandon Dickerson, the principal added. He spoke about 2 hours after the vaccinations began. 

Local hospital systems are signaling a crisis as the acceleration of cases brought on by the delta variant and lag in vaccinations continues.

RELATED: How the rise in COVID-19 cases is impacting Houston, Harris County departments and services

At the Texas Medical Center, on the week of July 4, COVID-19 patients made up 7 percent of all Phase 1 ICU capacity. A month later, it is 29 percent.

This week, hospitals in the Texas Medical Center announced they are postponing elective procedures either completely or to some extent including Memorial Hermann and Texas Children's Hospital.

Harris Health System, which operates Ben Taub and Lyndon B. Johnson hospitals, says it stopping all elective surgeries. It has also closed some primary care clinics to deal with a serious nursing shortage and the rapid increase in COVID-19 patients in their ICUs and emergency rooms. 

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Hospital leaders are noting patients who are sick are largely unvaccinated and younger than in the previous waves.

Harris County reports, at the start of the last summer, those 80 and older made up more than a quarter of all new cases. Now, they make up 5.5 percent. Health experts say it's due to the high vaccination rates among the elderly. The largest single age group now is 20 to 29. As of late July, they make up 22 percent of all new cases.  The county also reports 10-to-19-year-olds make up 15 percent of all new cases.