Now that the anti-COVID-19 vaccine is available to all Californians 16 years of age and older, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago says that young people can play an important role in the fight against vaccine hesitancy.
On Friday, Santiago joined several teens at a public vaccination event where the legislator from the 53rd assembly district received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. At a press conference outside of the Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital in Boyle Heights, he urged eligible youth to get vaccinated in order to prevent spreading of the coronavirus and beat the pandemic.
“It is absolutely important that our young people get vaccinated because they are the ones that are going to be back in school, they are going to be out talking to their friends,” Santiago said. “If we open up, we know that if they get vaccinated we are going to make our communities and our homes much safer.”
Low income Latino communities, such as Boyle Heights, have had some of the highest COVID contraction rates in Los Angeles County.
One of the teens who got vaccinated alongside the politician was 16-year-old Leilani Gutierrez.
“For all youth out there, please go get the vaccine,” she said. “I think it will ensure that all of our communities and as a society we can all be safe and make sure that our families are also safe.”
The teen said she was motivated to get vaccinated after family members struggled with COVID-19:
“Having to see all the hardships and adversities [my family] went through made me more motivated to get the vaccine and I just think that overall if this can keep us safe, I think we can probably go back to normal things, so I just think it’s important that youth like me get the vaccine.”
Of the two COVID vaccines currently being used in Los Angeles County, Pfizer is the only one so far that has been approved for use in individuals age 16 and older.
On Wednesday, White Memorial expanded its community vaccination clinic into a FEMA mass vaccination site, where over 5,000 shots will be administered each day. The hospital hopes that improving COVID vaccination rates within the Boyle Heights community will lead to decreasing the test positivity rates and saving lives.
“We understand especially with how COVID is spreading around the country in the younger generation, we’re in need to protect those as best as we can so we can keep it from spreading to anyone else.” said Dr. Ernie Guzman, a pediatrician and specialist in infectious diseases.