Gen Z lagging in Kent Co. vaccinated population, officials say

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In the race to get a coronavirus vaccine, Generation Z is in last place, according to new data from the Kent County Health Department.

“The young people, teens and 20-somethings are lagging the population by a great deal,” Kent County Health Department Administrative Officer Adam London said.

London says roughly 50% of those between the ages of 12 and 29 have received their first dose of a vaccine — far different from the vaccine rate for the county’s older population.

“For example, people 65 and older, their vaccine coverage rate is about 83%,” London said.

A closer look at the numbers shows vaccination rates increase by age group.

In Kent County, 36.5% of 12- to 15-year-olds have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to the 80% vaccination rate for those 65 and older.

In an effort to get more young people vaccinated, London says the county is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach, which includes calling on older age groups to lead by example.

“People listen to those they respect, so while those Gen Z people might not be watching this, I guarantee people they look up to are watching this broadcast, so I would encourage them to be leaders,” London said. “Be a force of positive impact on these young people, tell them to get vaccinated and tell them why it’s important to you.

Among the most powerful influencers are parents. Two vaccinated teens in Grand Rapids told News 8 why they got the shot.

“My mom actually encouraged the entire house to get the vaccine just to stay safe and be precautious about what’s going on in our world,” Taylor Kyle, 18, said.

Another teen gave a similar answer.

“I got the vaccine because my parents chose to, so the influence on that was definitely was an impact,” Abby Faken, 15, said.

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