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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Health Officials Encouraging Teens To Get Vaccinated As Summer Break Begins

A sign is pictured outside of Rady Children's hospital reading

Above: A sign is pictured outside of Rady Children's hospital reading "I'm proud to be a COVID fighter," June 18, 2021.

While COVID-19 vaccination rates are high for adults in San Diego, numbers for kids 17 to 12 years old are not at herd immunity levels.

"Children are a large part of our population here and we want to protect them and we want them to protect all of the rest of us," said Dr. John Bradley, medical director for infectious diseases at Rady Children's Hospital.

Bradley, Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, and other health officials were at Rady Children's on Friday encouraging kids to roll up their sleeves.

"We want them to not have to wear their masks in classes and in sports," Bradley said. Current state guidelines require masking for those vaccinated and unvaccinated in schools. "We want them to be able socialize together out of school as well as in school and the best way to do that is by immunizing them."

A spokesperson for the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency said as of Thursday, 32% of kids ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated in the county, while 44% have gotten at least one dose.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19 In San Diego County

"Even though they (kids) don't get quite as sick they can get sick and spread the infection to older adults," Bradley said.

Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for minors, and parental permission is required for kids to get their shots. Genevieve Shockley, 15, from Scripps Ranch participated in a clinical trial to test how the vaccines would work in young people.

"I was really overwhelmed by COVID when it first happened, but then when I heard about the study I decided to participate so I could help find a vaccine," Shockley said Friday during a news conference outside of Rady Children's hospital. She ended up being in the placebo group, but is now vaccinated.

"I did my part and now it’s time for other people to do theirs," she said.

Bradley said the next phase of vaccinations will be for kids under 12 years old and trials are going on right now. Kids infected with COVID-19 may also suffer from multi-system inflammatory syndrome, but there have been rare reports of the condition in San Diego.

Even though minors are usually asymptomatic after testing positive, each new coronavirus infection gives the virus an opportunity to mutate and possibly become more infectious and less susceptible to the current vaccines.

Overall, the county's vaccination tracker reports 76%, or 2.1 million, San Diegans 12 and older have at least gotten their first dose of the vaccine.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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