KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan health departments are coming up with new ways to reach young people, which have the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the state.
Kalamazoo County’s Health and Community Services Department is now using TikTok to better reach people ages 12 to 29 years old.
Lyndi Warner, public information officer for the department, says the agency started posting short videos about two weeks ago.
“We just really wanted to make sure at the health department we were everywhere we could be so people would get the information,” Warner said.
State health officials say 31% of people ages 12 to 15 in Michigan have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 41% of 16- to 19-year-olds, and 40% of 20- to 29-year-olds have had their first shot, which is about half the vaccination rate of people ages 65 to 74.
“When we look at who’s being vaccinated and where are we wanting to make those strides… the 12- to 29-year-old age group is where we really wanted to try and focus in on,” Warner said.
While its use of TikTok is still in the early stages, the department is starting to see its audience grow.
“We are seeing these videos do really well so far. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well that they’re doing,” Warner said.
The health department plans to expand its efforts, providing other important health information beyond COVID-19.
“There’s so much regarding public health that we feel like this platform can really allow us to talk to people and provide demonstrating videos of how to do certain things, what to look out, for especially when we look at mosquito or tick surveillance,” Warner said.
The department hopes its videos will push more students to get vaccinated with the return to the classroom just weeks away.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only shot currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use by people under the age of 18. Moderna filed for the same FDA clearance in June.
Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart and an additional two weeks beyond the second dose to be considered fully vaccinated.