Santa Clara County urges youth and Latinos to get COVID vaccines
Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, county COVID testing and vaccine officer, said more than one million residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, but teens lag behind. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

The demand for COVID-19 vaccines is dropping in Silicon Valley, and county officials are urging youth and Latino residents to get the jab.

While more than two-thirds of Santa Clara County residents over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, the county has seen a recent drop in demand.


“The vaccines are our best path out of this pandemic. We need to get everybody 16 and older vaccinated…and the sooner the better,” said county Testing and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib during a Friday news conference at Overfelt High School.

Fenstersheib said every two out of three eligible people—more than one million residents—have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine countywide. About 67% of county residents age 16 and older have received at least their first dose, and more than 39% are fully vaccinated. 

Although there are fewer cases and less people dying from the disease, people are still getting sick from COVID, he said.

“We are seeing nearly 100 new cases every day still,” Fenstersheib said. “Infections are higher in younger people…and many variants are circulating within our community, so it’s a race against variants.”

Only one in three teens age 16 to 17 have received a vaccination since they became eligible in mid-April. In the Latinx community, those numbers drop significantly—only 1 in 10 of 16- and 17-year-olds have been vaccinated.

Fenstersheib said young people have a misconception that COVID “is no big deal.” However, he said, it causes youth to be hospitalized and suffer long-term infections.

“Now it’s time to step up and get vaccinated,” he said. “Getting sick with COVID is far more dangerous and we see so many young adults with long-lasting symptoms.”

W.C. Overfelt High School student Andrea Hernandez said teens don't think they need a vaccine. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.
W.C. Overfelt High School student Andrea Hernandez said teens don’t think they need a vaccine. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.



Overfelt High School senior Andrea Hernandez said youth were unconvinced they needed shots as their age group has not contracted the virus as much as others.

“On social media, there are a lot of rumors going around about how the vaccine isn’t important and we don’t need it,” Hernandez said.

She said young people should advocate for their peers getting shots.

“I got it,” Hernandez said. “I want to keep everybody safe. Do it for the community.”

Vito Chiala, principal of Overfelt High School, also urged vaccine eligible students to get vaccinated.

“The ability to come back to school next year in-person, in classrooms, to bring life back to our schools, only happens through vaccination,” Chiala said.

Deputy County Executive Dr. Rocio Luna urges the Latino community of East San Jose to get their COVID vaccine. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.
Deputy County Executive Dr. Rocio Luna urges the Latino community of East San Jose to get their COVID vaccine. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

Dr. Rocio Luna, deputy county executive, called on the Latino community to step up. She said as East San Jose residents work multiple jobs and take care of families, it’s challenging for them to get to a site.

“That’s why it’s important to have vaccine ability everywhere; places they know and feel comfortable, places they can walk to,” she said, “and making sure we communicate effectively. We’re not going to give up until everybody is vaccinated, particularly in East San Jose.”

The county is also offering more walkup appointments with weekend and evening hours, as well as in-home vaccinations.

“Every vaccinated person gets us closer to protecting our community,” Fenstersheib said, “saving lives and getting back to normal.”

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

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