In March, the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross partnered with more than 40 organizations to help individuals and groups begin the conversation with others about the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends youth as young as 12 years old get the vaccine. To reach this demographic, the Red Cross is partnering with an organization in Gary, Indiana that encourages youth to talk about the COVID-19 vaccination through a region-wide campaign.

AVE Y Productions, which stands for Amplifying the Voice of Every Youth, is a group of young people dedicated to sharing topics significant to their peers through media, as well as to engage in real-life leadership experiences.

“This incredible group of young people has created relatable content that empowers youth to talk with those they trust about the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Kristin Marlow, executive director of the northwest chapter of American Red Cross – Indiana Region. “Although they cannot make the appointment for themselves, they can be a part of the conversation and perhaps the decision to be vaccinated.”

According to the latest available data from the CDC, while COVID-19 hospitalization rates were lower in adolescents aged 12–17 years compared to adults, nearly one-third of 204 teens from this study required intensive care. CDC officials say increased hospitalization rates among adolescents might be related, in part, to the circulation of particularly transmissible COVID-19 variants due to students returning to school, changes to physical distancing, regulations on wearing masks, and high school extracurricular activities. Of the three vaccines offered in the U.S., teens between 12 and 17 years of age are only required to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are grateful to partner with the American Red Cross to help our youth express their views on this important campaign,” said Ken Barry, owner of Do Good in Gary, which oversees AVE Y Productions. “Our young people need a voice in this space, and our hope is that it opens the doors for their peers across the country to have the talk about the vaccine.”