A group of teenagers in Philadelphia has joined hands to fight COVID-19 vaccine misinformation among their peers.
Angely Keosann, 17, belongs to the Philly Teen VAXX Ambassadors, which has 27 volunteers who go around the Philadelphia communities to inform and educate other kids about the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Speaking with CBS News, Keosann said that she signed up for the role because she had first-hand information about the virus after her family members got infected. As a pro-vaccine ambassador, Keosann and her group also hold events in various neighborhoods to debunk rumors about the COVID-19 vaccine.
They are also active on social media, where teenagers post videos of false information. Keren Abraham, 17, said that the most popular vaccine rumor comes from TikTok, where stories about vaccinated people with magnets on their inoculation site alleging that's where the "microchip" was embedded abound.
Who is Behind Philly Teen VAXX Ambassadors?
Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium (BDCC) and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Policy Lab launched the Philly Teen VAXX Ambassadors over the summer amidst cases of vaccine hesitancy among the youth. At the educational events, the groups also ensure a festive atmosphere filled with activities and a show, as families with teenagers come to learn about the benefits of vaccination.
According to the project manager Sophia Collins, they organized the events to allow kids a fun time after months of isolation and lack of classroom time. But in between the festivities, doctors come up to the stage to speak about giving the COVID-19 vaccine to the teenagers.
"Now it's time for my sons to get vaccinated, and as a parent there's no greater joy than being able to protect your child," Dr. Ala Stanford, one of the speakers, told the crowd.
Nina Dilworth, a junior high school student, said that while teenagers aren't the most at risk for serious COVID-19 symptoms, she got vaccinated because it's one step forward to make the community safer. Ibtihal Gassen, also a junior, had her jab and said that it's an amazing chance to tell other people about this very important message.
@phillyteenvaxx Come vibe with “Philly Teen VAXX Ambassadors” at our next event!! This one was amazing!! SAY TUNED!! ♬ Levitating (feat. DaBaby) - Dua Lipa
Vaccine Hesitancy in Philadelphia
According to the state's health department, only 855,010 people in Philadelphia are fully vaccinated as of Aug. 10, 2021. In a state with about 42 percent of Black residents, who are considered part of the vulnerable group, vaccine hesitancy is crucial.
Experts said that the number no. 1 reason Philadelphia locals are wary of the COVID-19 vaccine is a lack of trust among news sources or the government. Heather Klusaritz of the Penn's Center for Public Health Initiatives said that the state needs to "build trust and create opportunities" so that residents can air out their vaccine concerns, which in turn could help with their decision to get the jab.
Thus, aside from Philly Teen VAXX Ambassadors, the state has also launched the Vaccine Street Team to learn of the unvaccinated people's issues, and the Philly Counts that also go around priority communities to educate the residents.
Related Article: Families With Unvaccinated Children Try To Navigate COVID-19 Risks
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