Santa Clara County officials urged eligible county residents Friday to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 amid a drop in demand, particularly among young adults and teenagers.
More than 1 million vaccine doses have been administered countywide and roughly two-thirds of county residents age 16 and older have received at least one dose, according to county vaccination data.
However, just one-third of the county's 16- and 17-year-olds have received at least one dose, according to county COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib.
Among Latinx 16- and 17-year-olds, Fenstersheib said the vaccination rate is even lower at 1-in-10.
"Let me say to our young adults and our teens, it's your turn now," he said Friday during a briefing at W.C. Overfelt High School in San Jose.
"Only one-in-three teens 16 and 17 has been vaccinated so far, and that's okay, they just started in the middle of April," Fenstersheib said. "But now it's time to step up and get vaccinated."
The county is currently operating a walk-in vaccination clinic at Overfelt High School Thursdays through Sundays through the summer, Principal Vito Chiala said, "because this is a community that needs and deserves to be vaccinated and needs and deserves to have easy access to vaccinations."
Andrea Hernandez, a senior at Overfelt High who said she has already been vaccinated, attributed some vaccine hesitancy to fearmongering on social media, with unsubstantiated and non-factual rumors being passed around that vaccinations are unsafe or not necessary for ostensibly healthy young adults and teenagers.
Fenstersheib noted that while the county's coronavirus case rates, hospitalizations and deaths have all decreased since vaccinations began in December, current infections are higher among the county's population of young people.
As of Thursday, 18.4 percent of the county's 118,181 confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported in people 19 and under.
Only the 20-29-year-old demographic, at 19.5 percent, has seen a higher percentage of the county's cases since the pandemic began last year, according to county data.
While the vast majority of teens and children who contract the virus have survived in Santa Clara County -- just 0.3 percent of the county's deaths have been confirmed in people 19 and under -- county officials noted that the antibodies resulting from infection are not nearly as protective as those resulting from full vaccination.
"Don't wait any longer to do this," Fenstersheib said. "Every vaccinated person gets us ever closer to protecting our community and saving lives and getting back to normal. That's what we all want."
People who live and work in the county can get vaccinated at one of many county-operated vaccination sites, retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens or their personal doctor.
To make a vaccination appointment or find a walk-in vaccination clinic, county residents can visit sccfreevax.org.