JeffCo Public Health turns to teens for help to inform others about COVID-19 vaccines

Posted at 1:15 PM, Oct 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-03 21:09:53-04

DENVER -- In Jefferson County, more than 75% of those above the age of 12 have been vaccinated against COVID-19. To try to increase the number vaccinations among those between 12 and 18, Jefferson County Public Health's communication team is bringing on board three teens.

The team of three teens will be in charge of helping create content specifically geared toward convincing more teens to get vaccinated. It's a new strategy JeffCo Public Health is willing to try.

"So if someone comes in, and it's like, 'Hey, I have a little bit of video experience. I love making TikToks with my friends.' Great, let's use that," said Hope Kadlecek, the public affairs coordinator with JeffCo Public Health.

Kadlecek is in charge of running the three-teen COVID-19 vaccine internship. It's not only about making TikToks geared toward informing others about the vaccine, instead, figuring out the best way to share a message with teens.

"A goal that we have, obviously, is to increase the vaccination rates with that population, but also, young people have led so many movements, and to empower them and know that their voice does matter," she said.

Kadlecek said the message to get vaccinated can be delivered through many ways, and they're open to hearing ideas from teens.

"Where we want them to come in, is they're going to be able to see the work that we do--the hands-on experience of being on a communications team. And just the strategies of how best to reach their age group," she said. "We will learn from them, and they can learn from us."

The internship is for teens between the ages of 14 and 18. It'll run through May of 2022 and will be paid.

"Each of them individually would earn $405 total at the end of the internship," said Emily Merewether, the Special Projects Coordinator with Jefferson County Public Health.

In the end, the main goal is figuring out what's most convincing, and what doesn't spark the interest of teens, at all.

"Maybe a flyer for high school is a really bad idea, and they're going to be able to tell us that," said Kadlecek.