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COVID: Youth Nights At Levi's Stadium Add A Dose Of Fun To Teens' Vaccines

SAN JOSE (KPIX) As demand for the COVID-19 vaccine slows down, Santa Clara County health officials are finding ways to entice eligible residents to get inoculated, particularly teenagers.

"Some of our lowest vaccination rates are still in the younger generation," said Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Tong.

Between Tuesday to Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the county is holding an event at Levi's Stadium for high schoolers who are now eligible to get the vaccine. Last month, teens as young as 16-years-old got authorization from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

The event at the home of the San Francisco 49ers includes free swag from the team as long as supplies last, a free tour of the team's locker room and the first 100 students in line on Tuesday received a free Chipotle or Starbucks gift card.

No appointment or insurance are needed as long as teens who are 16 or 17-years-old get parent or guardian permission by phone or consent form if they don't bring a parent or guardian with them.

"I think it was a pretty fun experience," said Vaibhav Rangan who received his first dose Tuesday. "I can tell my friends, 'I went to Levis you didn't.'"

Faith Vito, 16, was first in line at the stadium on Tuesday.

"I thought that was pretty cool, and plus I just wanted to be safe and get the vaccine," Vito said.

In Santa Clara County, there are 351,277 residents ages 16 to 29. Of those residents, 133,112 have not been vaccinated, according to the public health web site.

Tong said she's heard the excuse that some are waiting until the end of the school year or after their final exams.

"I think it's not a priority because a lot of teens feel like they're immune to everything," said 16-year-old Nika Bagherian who received her second dose Tuesday. "Get your vaccine."

"A, we couldn't get an appointment soon enough and B, I wouldn't say hesitancy, but kind of like, 'Hey, let's wait for some of my friends to get it then I'll get it,'" said Rangan. "I didn't really want to be the first one."

The county is in a race to get ahead of variants that may form if the virus continues to spread. But it also touted some of its lowest COVID-19 positive cases in the last week with numbers dipping to 36 cases on Monday, according to the health department's Twitter profile. The last time cases were that low were in September, according to the department's COVID-19 dashboard.

"Pretty big moment in our family, and at the very least I can feel like I'm a part of larger movement in history and stuff," Rangan said.

Tomorrow, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will discuss and then vote on whether to give approval for 12 to 15-year-olds to receive the vaccine. If approved, it will then be in the hands of CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky to give the final green light. That means California could potentially begin inoculating younger adolescents as soon as Thursday.

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