SAN JOSE, Calif. - Leaders in Santa Clara County are concerned that demand for the COVID vaccine has decreased over the last week and not enough young people are signing up.
Officials are now waging an information campaign and enlisting youth to help.
In Santa Clara County young people have the lowest rate of vaccination, and also the highest rate of COVID infection. County officials say that needs to change.
Getting the vaccine wasn't a hard decision for Overfelt High School senior Andrea Hernandez.
"It was actually really straightforward for me. I didn't really have any second thoughts about whether or not I should get it," Hernandez said.
She said that's not always the case with her peers.
Hernandez believes misinformation spread on social media is part of the problem and creating vaccine hesitancy among teens.
"That's where we get our main information from. So when people lie, we're believing those lies and I think it's really hard," she said.
Local leaders in Santa Clara County are working hard to combat that and fight the bad information with good. They've launched a youth ambassador program with 250 members so far.
First the teens get educated, about the safety, efficacy, and necessity of the vaccines. Then they're encouraged to post online.
"Now we're challenging them to come up with Tik Toks and other communication methods, some of which I hadn't heard of yet," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who helped organize the program.
At a news conference on Friday, officials explained that only 1 in 3 teens between 16 and 17 years old are vaccinated so far. In the Latinx community, it's 1 in 10. And so the county is switching its strategy.
"More walk-ups, more pop-ups, more evening hours, more weekend hours. We're coming to you. If you can't come to us we will come to you," said Dr. Rocio Luna, Deputy County Executive.
"Let me say to our young adults and our teens, it's your turn now. It's your turn," said the county's testing officer, Dr. Marty Fenstersheib.
That's the message Andrea Hernandez is sending to her friends: think about your health and safety and your community too... then get the shot.
"It's not always about just you as a person, it's about those around you and those you affect around you," she said.
The youth ambassador program officially launched a week ago in partnership with the office of education. Their next meeting is set for Saturday.