Free boba tea, selfies with a Dr. Fauci cardboard cutout, and other goodies?
County health officials are encouraging teens to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by hosting a series of events at Gilroy High School that they hope will be a fun and light-hearted way to get the shot.
Open to anyone 16 and older, the vaccination clinics will be held May 12 and 21 from 2-4:30pm, and May 27 from 2-6:30pm at the school, 750 West 10th St.
Teen vaccination rates are low in Santa Clara County and throughout the rest of California in comparison to adults. While 73 percent of the eligible population over age 16 in Santa Clara County had received at least one dose of vaccine as of May 9, for residents ages 16 and 17, that number was closer to 40 percent, according to county data.
Dr. Patricia Salmon, who works on vaccine allocation with Santa Clara County Public Health, said young people may be hesitant to get the shot by reading misinformation on social media. They also might feel that the brief side effects of the vaccine are worse than the symptoms of Covid-19.
“While the risk of developing a severe infection from Covid-19 is lower in younger individuals, the risk is not zero,” she said. “We do see some cases of very severe Covid-19 infection in younger individuals.”
Young people, who may have mild symptoms from the virus, can still pass it on to others who may be much more at risk of severe complications from Covid-19, Salmon warned.
“We want them to get vaccinated so they can protect their friends, families and other loved ones,” she said.
Yoli Lopez, a junior at Mount Madonna High School in Gilroy, said she received her second dose of the vaccine at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on May 10.
She said rumors about the vaccine, as well as a lack of transportation to clinics, are among the reasons for the low vaccination rates among young people.
“We have to do more to get more Latinx and low income youth access to vaccines by making sites closer to homes and schools, closer to public transportation,” she said. “We need to help parents of all cultures and languages understand how important vaccines are.”Young people ages 16 and 17 need permission from their parent or guardian to get vaccinated. Consent forms can be found at vax.sccgov.org.