PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Department of Health said Wednesday the state has crossed the 50% threshold for the number of adult residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Health officials say more than 304,000 South Dakotans have received their vaccinations.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all South Dakotans who have chosen to get their COVID-19 vaccine— protecting themselves, their family, and their community,” said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health. “Vaccines are safe and are the quickest way out of this pandemic.”

State health officials began Phase 2 of South Dakota's vaccination plan on April 5. It made coronavirus vaccines available to all state residents age 16 and older, in addition to any eligible person that had not been inoculated in the first phase.

Parents, schools and vaccine clinics are rushing to begin inoculating younger children after U.S. regulators this week endorsed Pfizer’s vaccine for those as young as 12, a decision seen as a breakthrough in allowing classroom instruction to resume safely around the country.

A handful of cities started offering shots to children ages 12 to 15 less than a day after the Food and Drug Administration gave the vaccine emergency use authorization for that age group.

Most communities are waiting for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee that meets Wednesday to sign off on the move.