By Jana Kadah
Bay City News Foundation
SANTA CLARA (CBS SF/BCN) -- Santa Clara County leaders want eligible youth to get vaccinated, and they're pulling out all the stops to make sure it happens.
From Tuesday to Thursday, teens from 16 to 19 years old have an opportunity to get a tour of the San Francisco 49er's locker rooms, pick up some 49er's swag and get free codes to play the 49er's Virtual Escape Room Game if they get vaccinated at Levi's Stadium.
A DJ and Sourdough Sam will be there to create a fun vaccine experience. And the first 100 youth to show up on May 11 through May 13 will also get a $10 gift card to either Starbucks or Chipotle.
"We're here to try to make this fun and musical while teens are getting their shots," Supervisor Cindy Chavez said at the stadium on Monday.
The Student Vaccination nights take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and do not require an appointment. Vaccines are also available to family members or caregivers who come with the youth to the stadium.
Chavez said this initiative is the first of many to encourage the county's younger residents to get inoculated.
Right now, the county has more than 50 percent of residents fully inoculated and 73 percent with at least one dose.
In contrast, only 16 percent of those 16 to 17 years old are fully vaccinated and 41 percent have one dose, Dr. Ahmad Kamal, county director of healthcare systems preparedness, said.
Younger residents also make up most current COVID-19 cases. As of Monday, those 16 to 19 made up 18.5 percent, the second most infected age group following those 20 to 29 who make up 19.5 percent of cases, according to the county's COVID data dashboard.
Kamal speculated that the lower vaccination rates among youth may be the result of the delayed eligibility, so the age range is playing catch up.
But Santa Clara County's Office of Education youth ambassadors, who are encouraging younger folks to get vaccinated, said low vaccine rates are a result of transportation issues as well as misinformation around vaccines.
"There has been a lot of misinformation that many parents have heard before, they hear the rumors and a lot of Black and Indigenous people of color don't trust the government," said Mount Madonna School junior Yoletzin Lopez. "Then, they don't let their kids get vaccinated."
And for those who get permission from their parents, it's hard for them to get a ride.
Steven Luo, a youth ambassador and junior at Evergreen Valley High School said it was a pop-up site that made it easier for him to get his vaccine last week.
"I understand that there is of course a subgroup of teenagers who think they are above getting the vaccine, but I think that's an overstatement" and an overgeneralization, Luo said.
Instead, he said the low vaccine rates among youth are because it's just harder for them to get to sites. So, Luo hopes the Youth Nights at Levi's Stadium will encourage younger folks and families to put in the effort.
"We are shifting the vibe instead of going to the doctor's, it's more like you're going out to the stadium to watch a football game," Luo said. "That's a lot more fun so teenagers are more inclined to do that."
Supervisor Otto Lee also said more vaccines means a better summer and school year for children in the county.
"As a father, it has been difficult to see our children isolated from one another," said Lee. "Getting our children vaccinated is vital for their physical and emotional well-being. With summer right around the corner, I am thrilled that so many community partners have joined us in this effort to get more teens vaccinated."
The Student Vaccination Nights opening comes as the Food and Drug Administration approves Pfizer vaccine use on children 12 to 15 years old. County officials said vaccinations for that age group will begin once approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and if it does, more events like this will be held to reach the younger group.
Youth under 18 years old who come to a Student Vaccination Night will need a permission slip signed by their guardian but do not need to have a parent come with them. If they do not have a permission slip, stadium staff will call parents to get their permission.
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