Updated: Jun 19
By Audrey Willett:
Teens for (4) Vaccines Against Covid-19 is a youth organization with the goal to help young and not-so-young people get vaccinated. It offers many resources to help people get informed and find places where they can get vaccinated.
Please enjoy the interview below, and get vaccinated!!
AW: Tell us all about you and your organization.
T4V: Teens for Vaccines Against Covid-19 was founded to promote and encourage fellow members of Generation Z (and young people in general) to get vaccinated, as well as to condemn misinformation surrounding Covid-19 vaccinations. At the time I decided to found this youth-led organization, I was seeing data being released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (commonly known as the CDC) that was confirming what we already knew: young people were (and still are) the least likely age group to get vaccinated. And yet, we are the most likely age group to spread the virus; so much so we were dubbed the “Super-Spreaders” of Covid-19. I found that profoundly infuriating and concerning—especially as a young person myself—and I am a true believer in taking action when you see something wrong in the world. We have [directed] those feelings of fury to multiple projects and to getting many people vaccinated who once were vaccine-hesitant, which I am so proud of, and I'm grateful for the people who are a part of our team for assisting in helping make that happen.
AW: Why do you think it is important for your generation to let your voices be heard?
T4V: Our generation is the future of this country, but our generation is the present too, in many respects. You saw the effects of what happened when young people didn't get vaccinated: the rate of hospitalizations rose, more elderly and immunocompromised people became infected and died as a result, and currently, for example, the CDC Director issued a stark warning to teenagers and their parents that the hospitalization rate of adolescents is spiking in the United States. If our generation chooses to be silent at a time when life is on the line—not figuratively but literally—how can we call ourselves a revolutionary generation? Now more than ever, we must stand together to encourage our friends, peers, and strangers to get vaccinated, report misinformation on social media, and raise our voices for the common good.
AW: Are you feeling optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
T4V: I'm cautiously optimistic about the future, especially as cases are trending downward, including mortality rates. I believe this is a positive sign and something that should be celebrated, but I think we should all be concerned that we are seeing a significant drop in vaccination rates nationally. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently warned the American public that we need to drastically increase the number of vaccinated individuals in the U.S, as there is a chance Delta could become a variant soon in the states, and this should be enough to get people to encourage their family and friends to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, considering that Dr. Fauci said the new variant is more contagious and deadly.
Bottom line: Go get vaccinated and encourage everyone you know to do the same.
AW: What are the most important issues facing our world right now?
T4V: Without a doubt, the inequalities in the United States and around the world—whether that's police brutality, systemic racism, anti-Asian hate in the streets of San Fransisco, hate towards the LGBTQ plus community, Islamophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, or the ethnic cleansing of those around the world. The inequalities need to be addressed first and foremost to address the other problems our world faces, as all issues are interconnected.
AW: What does your organization offer that helps the world be a better place?
T4V: By providing young people with fact-checked information and reliable resources as well as fun and exciting projects, we are adding joy and hope to the world by encouraging teens to make a difference by helping others get vaccinated! As of June 1, 2021, out of 148 respondents, 109 of them (73.6%) persuaded their vaccine-hesitant friends, family members, or peers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by utilizing one of our projects!
AW: Will you be voting in the next election?
T4V: Unfortunately, I will be unable. But I will be after the next one! I am incredibly excited! It is the number one reason why I can’t wait to turn 18!
AW: Please tell us all about your current campaigns, projects, and endeavors. Tell everyone where to find you online and on social platforms.
T4V: Teens for Vaccines Against Covid-19 currently has six projects as part of our youth-led organization working to increase the number of adolescents (and those 18–45) rolling up their sleeves and stopping the spread of misinformation. The first one is our Persuasive Resource Guide, or Toolkit, that assists people, particularly young people, in their process of convincing those in their lives—whether that be friends, peers, or family members—to get the vaccine. Thus far, we have had success, as noted before, and we look forward to hopefully maintaining that. Our second project is one in which we enable student engagement through our School Text/Email Bank in high schools or colleges throughout the country to encourage adolescent vaccination rates to increase. Our third and fourth projects are focused solely on education and reliable resources. For example, project number three is our Education Campaign, which is going directly to pediatricians and crafting brochures and posters for them to distribute to their patients on why teens should be getting vaccinated. Project four, also centered on education, provides public health professionals the opportunity to submit articles, essays, or what-have-you to be [featured] on our social media via our Publication Campaign. We have even opened this up to young people, as long as they provide evidence of where they gathered their research. Our project that combats misinformation is titled Tackling Misinformation at the Source, and it entails getting directly to the source of inaccurate information by creating a fun game out of encouraging teens to report as much misinformation surrounding Covid-19 vaccines as they can, and whoever reports the most, with screenshots as proof, will win a prize. Our current final project is our official summer project: a Vaccine Sign-Up Drive in multiple typical summer areas, such as public pools, parks, etc.
AW: Is there anything else you would like to share?
T4V: Please, please go get vaccinated now, if you have not already. If you are not fully vaccinated, please continue to mask up in public and around others. Make sure that those around you are vaccinated too! Let’s end this pandemic!
Audrey Willett is a southern California sophomore in high school. She is an activist and aspiring filmmaker, and the Social Media Outreach coordinator for The Gen Z Collective.