COVID-19 vaccination rate lagging among Finger Lakes Region youth population

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Although people ages 16 and up have been eligible to get the vaccine in New York for a couple weeks, the Finger Lakes region isn’t seeing a large number of teens or young adults getting the shot. 

“Young adults, up to age 24, only about 16% of that group has been vaccinated so far,” said Dr. Nancy Bennett, the Head of the Finger Lakes Vaccine Hub. 

Experts tell News 8 they believe part of this is because young adults don’t think they will get as severe of an illness. However, they say getting vaccinated is still important. 

“The younger age groups tends to be involved in more social activities, college and dorms, sports events and parties, and because they don’t think that they’re going to be severely affected, they may not follow the masking guidelines and the social distancing guidelines. So therefore, there’s more risk to spread the disease,” said Dr. Kristen Christian with Rochester Regional Health’s Williamson Family Medicine & Pediatrics.

According to the Monroe County COVID-19 dashboard, cases are currently being seen at higher rates in those under the age of 30 compared to other groups, and variants seem to be playing a role. 

“Some of the new variants tend to be affecting the younger age groups more severely than they were before, so they’re seeing more younger-age people hospitalized with the COVID virus,” Dr. Christian said. 

No matter your age, experts says getting vaccinated is important and can impact others around you. 

“The more we allow the virus to circulate, the more risk there is that we will develop a variant that is resistant to the vaccine. That has not happened yet, and we certainly hope it never will, but allowing circulation of the virus to continue puts us at great risk,” Dr. Bennett said. 

She said stopping the spread of the virus is going to take a team effort. 

“We just can’t encourage people enough. I mean, we all have to do this together for each other, we all have to be in it together, we all have to get vaccinated and if we have friends who have concerns or fears, we need to talk to them about it and be open and transparent and share with them what we know.”

Currently, there are many day-of reservations in the Finger Lakes region and some places are even taking walk-in appointments. 

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