(Portage) Health officials in Columbia County are encouraging anyone who is attending school in person this year to get vaccinated. COVID vaccines are available for children ages 12 and up as well as for anyone planning to attend classes at a college or university. Through last week, only 31.5-percent of 12-through-15-year-olds and 41.2-percent of 16-and-17-year-olds have initiated their vaccine series, with only 27.4-percent and 37.8-percent fully vaccinated. With two doses required for the Pfizer vaccine, 21 days apart, and another two weeks to build full immunity both state and local health officials say it is important to get the shot as soon as possible. Columbia County health officers say students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to the classroom this fall is a priority. They add that vaccinations can help Wisconsin schools return to in-person instruction as well as other extracurricular activities without further disruption. Adults and children who are fully vaccinated do not need to adhere to CDC quarantine guidelines after exposure to a confirmed case of the virus. With increasing cases over the past several weeks after a period of regular decline, health officials say strong consideration should be given to receiving the COVID vaccine.