SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With the Delta variant surging, San Francisco is stepping up efforts to close the COVID vaccine gap and make sure young people and people of color get vaccinated.
"With this new Delta variance we will see higher infections of those who are not vaccinated and we can anticipate they'll be at least 250 more deaths and disproportionately those people will be African Americans and Latinos," said Mayor London Breed.
"I'm scared for the Black community, I'm scared for people who are 25-40 years old, I'm scared for people who are refusing to get the vaccine," said San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton.
But outside a vaccine clinic in Visitacion Valley Thursday, a new frontline in the fight against COVID was was encouraging people to get a shot.
"Go and get the shot, go, go and get the shot," the group cheered to people and cars passing by Philip & Sala Burton Academic High School.
The youth led campaign, called Max the Vax is addressing health equity and the well being of people of color in San Francisco.
"I got my second vaccination two days ago," said T'yanna Thomas, a 14-year-old San Francisco resident and Max the Vax intern.
T'yanna works five days a week at vaccine clinics and San Francisco General Hospital to get the right word about COVID vaccines. "I talked to a couple of my friends that were hesitant, some of them are vaccinated, including him - he was hesitant," she said pointing to her friend, Dontae Seymore, a Marin City resident, who recently got vaccinated.
Kate Larsen: "What convinced you to get the vaccine?"
Dontae Seymore: "Majority because we're going back to school in person again"
Along with supporting vaccine sites, the group is working to shatter the myths and share the facts about COVID vaccines on social media. "We know a lot of people go to social media for information and things like that."
So the group launched a tik tok account this month with accessible, educational, and vaccine positive information, to fight back against this.
"I was extremely hesitant because I felt like I was getting misinformed through the internet," said Danyelle Diggs, who just graduated from San Francisco State and is pursuing a career in public health.
Diggs says speaking to a trusted doctor convinced her to get a COVID vaccine and now she's trying to pay it forward to her family and community. "Having those conversations and saying this is something that won't only help you, it will help your children, it will help your grandmother, is something that's really important to the Black community."
"I think there's a sense of familiarity once you hear from someone that looks like you. It makes you feel more comfortable because you see yourself in them," Diggs continued.
Diggs and the Max the Vax crew say their word is already making an impact at home and in community - one shot at a time.
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