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Worcester Begins 'Influencer' Program To Boost Youth COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

Ace Mejia, one of the influencers trying to help Worcester, Massachusetts, boost vaccination rates among the city's youth.
Michael Bonner
/
The Republican / Masslive.com
Ace Mejia, one of the social influencers trying to help Worcester, Massachusetts, boost vaccination rates among the city's youth.

The city of Worcester is launching a program to use social influencers to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among the city's youth.

The two age groups in Worcester with the lowest vaccination rates are 12- to 15-year-olds and 16- to 19-year olds. Less than 40% of both groups have been fully vaccinated.

The city hopes to change that with the help of 10 local social influencers.

Domenica Perrone of the city's Department of Health and Human Services said they are all in their late teens and early 20s.

"They have a strong social media presence, but they're also very active in the community," she said. "They're already doing outreach. They're already doing community organizing. They're creative; they're outspoken, and they're influential within their peer groups."

Perrone said the influencers will post messages and videos to their social media accounts and appear at events.

She said the city also hopes the program will reduce vaccine hesitancy among 18- to 24-year-olds, who don't need parental consent. 

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education, and politics. Working with correspondent Morley Safer, he reported from locations across the United States as well as from India, Costa Rica, Italy, and Iraq.
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