CLARK COUNTY, WA (KPTV) - Everyone over 16 years old in both Washington and Oregon is now eligible to get their Covid-19 vaccine - but how many young people are getting their dose?
"4% of Clark County youth have received their first dose. That’s similar to the state - 5%. 1% of Clark County youth 0-19 are fully vaccinated and that’s similar to the state which is at 1%," Dr. Alan Melnick, the Clark County Public Health Director, said.
While the numbers in Clark County are close to on par with the rest of the state, Dr. Melnick said he wishes that number among youth was higher. Especially with variants in the community.
"Right now, as you can see, the problem is we’ve got a lot of transmission going on in the younger populations. One of the reasons is because they’re not vaccinated," Melnick said. "The more people out there that are unvaccinated and getting infected, the more likely we’re going to see variants develop that could be more transmissible and cause more disease."
Melnick said he thinks one big barrier for this age group is accessibility. Right now, he said Clark County Public Health is working to eliminate that barrier.
"We’re doing this, allowing walk-ins, drive-ins, however you want to put it. Getting rid of the appointment requirement," he said. "At the Tower Mall in central Vancouver, we were having trouble filling appointments. I think it was at 10:30 in the morning saying they could drive up and we had 100 more people show up between then and 2:30."
Just this week in Oregon - 15% of those 16 to 19 years old have gotten at least one dose and 6.6% are fully vaccinated. Dr. Emilio Debess, a senior health advisor for the Oregon Health Authority, said they saw an uptick in 16 and 17-year-olds getting their shot once eligibility opened up.
"I think the 16 and 17-year-olds, possibly because their parents are taking them with them to get vaccinated, are getting the vaccine," Debess said. "We’re hoping that it’s going to keep on increasing."
Previously, we reported 16 and 17-year-olds need parental consent to get their COVID-19 vaccine in Washington. Dr. Melnick said a minor can get it without their parent's consent through the Mature Minor Doctrine, where providers can evaluate things like the minor's age, intelligence and maturity to allow them to get their dose.