SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Health officials in Santa Clara County are increasingly concerned over a recent drop in demand for the COVID-19 vaccine despite ample supply and an expansion of sites throughout the valley. They're now pushing to get more youth and young adults vaccinated as soon as possible.
"Kids are starting to go to college and we all want to get back to school. The only way that we're going to be able to open up these beautiful halls to young people who want to learn and get on with their lives is if we can get everybody vaccinated," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez during a media event at Overfelt High School.
Overfelt, which is located in the heart of East San Jose, is among the many county-run sites where people can drop by this weekend without an appointment.
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"So many of our students right now are doing childcare or working jobs and are trying to go to school online full time," said Overfelt principal Vito Chiala. "I think we really have to make it convenient for them and make sure they understand how to access it."
In Santa Clara County, more than 67% of eligible residents have received their first dose and nearly 40% have been completely vaccinated. But officials say young adults make up the highest number of unvaccinated individuals in the county, and although case rates are declining, they also have the highest rate of COVID infection of any group.
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"Young people have this misconception that COVID is no big deal," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the county's COVID-19 testing and vaccine officer. "It is a big deal and we've seen a lot of young people now hospitalized... young people with long-term infections that go on for months and months and months."
The county is also launching a youth engagement team to help cut through the misinformation that some may be seeing on social media.
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"We revolve our lives around social media, you know, we're always on TikTok, or Instagram, or Snapchat, and I think once you reach out in maybe ads or maybe even having like a social media page for us getting the vaccine, it'll help us a lot because that's our main resource for information," said Overfelt senior Andrea Hernandez.
Evening and weekend hours at county-run sites will also expand in the coming weeks.
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"I think it's important to have availability everywhere, places that they know and that they're feeling comfortable, places they can walk to, and to ensure that we communicate effectively," said county deputy executive Dr. Rocio Luna.
For more information on which drop-in locations are available this weekend, click here.
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