ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The first series of COVID-19 vaccine clinics specifically for Albuquerque Public School students and their families are scheduled for next week but the spots are not filling up. Registration has been open to students since last week, but APS says Monday the state changed it, so parents are no longer required to accompany their 16- or 17-year-old children. Instead, parents can now fill out a consent form.

“Which I think will be really helpful for a lot of families so that they can just download the consent form and bring it with them rather than, you know, a parent having to take off of work,” said Gabriella Blakey, APS Chief Operations Officer.

APS says that may have been why the appointments didn’t fill up right away because the clinic is scheduled for the middle of the afternoon next week at Expo New Mexico. There are spots for 500 people a day for next Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. APS has about 20,000 students who are 16 or older; the clinics are open to them and their families. According to APS, there were still open appointments as of Tuesday afternoon.

APS families have until Tuesday night to sign before any spots leftover will be available to the general public. For Rio Rancho Public Schools, students have a chance Tuesday to get a shot at a vaccine clinic at the Rio Rancho Event Center. “I’m feeling pretty good. I’m excited. Thanks to everyone who scheduled this. It’s great to have a vaccine, you know, one step back to normal,” said Elliott, a high school student.

Tuesday’s clinic wasn’t just for students. In all, there were about 3,000 spots available and the Rio Rancho fire chief said about two-thirds of those appointments were filled as of Tuesday morning and Walgreens and the state were still pushing out notifications to people registered with the New Mexico Department of Health, to get more people to sign up.

At least 500 Rio Rancho students pre-registered for the clinic and more may have signed up Tuesday but those numbers are not known yet. The Rio Rancho School District has about 3,400 students who are 16 or older. Schools are encouraging students to get vaccinated, not only for health reasons but to reduce the impact on student learning if a school experiences a positive case. Vaccinated students and teachers don’t have to quarantine if they are exposed to a COVID case unless they have symptoms.