Though San Franciscan teens are vaccinated, many need a boost.
The majority of San Francisco teens are vaccinated against Covid-19, but skipped the booster, according to data presented at a Latino Task Force meeting Monday.
Although overall 12 to 17-year-olds report a 90 percent vaccination rate, Black teenagers remain behind, with a 52 percent rate. When it comes to boosters, though, all are behind: Only one-third of youth in that age group received a booster shot.
Racial disparities deepen amid booster shots, too. While one-third of 12- to 17-year-olds received a booster shot, only 17 percent of Black, 19 percent of Latinx, and 21 percent of Native American adolescents in that age group got boosted. Less than half of Asian and white youth are getting boosted, too; 33 and 47 percent are boosted, respectively.
“The overall uptake of boosters is super low,” said Dr. Lynn Ramirez, the medical director of hospital epidemiology at UCSF’s children’s hospital. “And then when you start looking at the different groups broken down by race and ethnicity, the gap is even more alarming.”
Vaccination rates for children ages 5 to 11 remain especially low in all ethnic groups, except Asians, who report an 81 percent vaccination rate.
Doctors from the University of California, San Francisco, and the Department of Public Health urged the community to get eligible children and teens boosted, especially as the school district relaxes its masking mandate. The vaccine reduces the risk of contracting covid by 90 percent.
And, boosters work well against severe effects of covid, such as hospitalization and death, said Dr. Ted Ruel, a UCSF pediatrics professor. Data from 24 states and New York City show about 40,000 kids hospitalized with covid, the UCSF doctor shared Monday. The UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco and Oakland both saw a jump in hospitalizations from mid- to late January as well, when omicron surged.
Ruel emphasized that there is no data proving that omicron is more severe for children, but “even if it’s milder in kids, any number of kids getting hospitalized is a big deal.”
“There seems to be a group of people who don’t seem interested in getting vaccinated, and that’s across cultures,” said Lupita Franco, the spokeswoman for local clinic Mission Neighborhood Health Center.
But the center continues to encourage clients to be up to date on their inoculations and strengthen their outreach. The health center has been advertising vaccines for all ages via Spanish radio and flyers, and has extended the clinic’s hours from Tuesdays to Thursdays.
Health center staff are also calling on adults to give their kids a boost: “Ultimately, the parents influence who gets vaccinated,” Franco said.
The Latino Task Force is doing outreach for its Hub, mobile vaccination clinics and throughout their community networks. This Friday afternoon, from 3:30 to 5:30 at John O’Connell High School, vaccinations and boosters will be given to anyone 5 and older, with a $100 gift card as an incentive.