GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Educators and athletic directors, who say young people could help the community reach herd immunity, received groundbreaking news from Pfizer Wednesday.

“This is one step closer to returning to normalcy,” said John Helmholdt, spokesperson for Grand Rapids Public Schools. “This has been just a year of uncertainty, of ever-changing dynamics.”

Pfizer is now offering a shot of relief. The company said its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and 100% effective in preventing illness in kids 12 to 15, an age group experts said is largely unvaccinated. The vaccine is expected to be available before school starts this fall.

That is welcome news to GRPS.

“Having talked to our athletic director, and he talking with some of his coaches, obviously they’re looking for any good news that’s going to be able to get the athletes back in sports and active this spring,” said Helmholdt.

Pfizer’s announcement also resonates with Jenison Public Schools. Its athletic director called it huge.

“Getting the vaccine, we can help certainly avoid all the contact tracing and quarantining for kids and having them not only miss school but also certainly missing their athletics,” said Tim Ritsema, Jenison Public Schools director of athletics. “It’s been a battle every day, but it’s a battle we fight because it’s what’s best for student athletes.”

To any student who is on the fence or apathetic about getting the vaccine, school officials recommend they do their homework.

“Use the data and the science and the health experts to guide that decision-making,” said Helmholdt.