PUYALLUP, Wash. — Gen Z and millennials are taking a new role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Those 16 and up have been cleared to receive a vaccine since mid-April.
Soon, even younger people are expected to join that list.
On Wednesday, Rogers High School in Puyallup was the site of the latest vaccine clinic in Pierce County. It was the first specifically targeting teens, thanks to a partnership between the school district, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, and Kirk’s Pharmacy.
“I didn’t think that me, a sixteen-year-old, would be getting this COVID shot so early,” said Sophomore Lorenzo Lopez-Aparicio.
It was a clinic that, according to Assistant Superintendent of Puyallup School District Mario Casello, drew hundreds of students.
“I think that’s a pretty strong message. Six hundred students wanting to take this opportunity, I think says that a lot of our youth are interested in doing this,” Casello said.
Students are now spreading a pro-vaccine message in a way they know best by using TikTok and filling it with flashy videos encouraging all who can to get the shot.
“It’s making me feel like I really have like a great opportunity and a lot of people my age have the great chance of getting this shot,” Lopez-Aparicio said.
Soon, the age to qualify is expected to drop even younger. Dr. Anthony Fauci said he predicts the FDA will clear children as young as 12 in the coming days.
“Now that we can vaccinate those kids it’s going to make it much, much easier to get those kids back to school without the anxiety of whether or not they’re going to be outbreaks at that level,” Fauci said.
In Puyallup, the district is preparing for a full-time return to in-person learning in the fall. The vaccine is just one of the many tools they’re using to make sure all students and staff are safe.
The decision, they say, is ultimately made by the students and their families.
“We push out all the information, they have the information to educate themselves, and then be able to make a good decision whether they want to do that or not for their child,” Casello said.