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Local teens and young adults differ, but see benefits, or not, of getting the vaccine.

PMG FILE PHOTO - A county health worker is vaccinated as part of the early vaccination process this past January. People ages 16 and older became eligible in Oregon Monday, April 19.All Oregonians ages 16 or older are eligible for the vaccine as of April 19, but with the system now opening to this state's younger generation, the question remains whether or not they'll take the state up on its offer?

According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, 68% of Americans plan to or already have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. With that said, 36% of adults under the age of 35 have said they're not interested — a significantly higher percentage than the 27% of older Americans who said they'll abstain.

The question is: What will young residents of western Washington County choose to do?

Lizbeth Bucio, a Forest Grove High School senior, recently received her second dose of the vaccine through the Virginia Garcia Cornelius Wellness Center.

The 18-year-old, who is headed to George Fox University this fall, said she was originally hesitant to be vaccinated so as not to step in front of elderly individuals who were far more at risk. But, in time and given the opportunity, Bucio spoke to wanting to do her part, and felt most of her friends and family thought similarly.

"It seems like most of the young adults that I'm surrounded by plan to or are in the process of getting the vaccine," Bucio said. "They're definitely supportive of helping to end this pandemic."

Bucio, who also hopes to be a doctor someday, said she experienced symptoms from her second vaccine shot for a short period of time afterwards, but she wasn't concerned and is confident in the process that she hopes will protect us all from the coronavirus.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Lizbeth Bucio"A lot of people spent a lot of hours developing this vaccine, and all in an effort to help us all be safe," she said. "Certainly, I had symptoms after my second shot, but in the end, it's worth it, because you're protecting yourself and the safety of others."

Pacific University freshman Guy Littlefield thinks similarly, saying that while he isn't currently seeking vaccination, he plans to look into it in the future and believes that he and those around him are doing so more for the sake of others opposed to themselves.

"A lot of the kids my age think that getting the vaccine isn't so much about protecting ourselves, but rather protecting others and building herd immunity," Littlefield said. "We really want to help everything get back to the way it was before the pandemic."

Littlefield added that he's heard his peers speak both to the benefits of vaccination, as well as some of the concerns surrounding it — which is not uncommon across the country.

Data collected October 2020, from the text message-based MyVoice national survey of youth based at the University of Michigan reported that 76% of the 911 teens and young adults questioned said they were willing to get vaccinated. However, of those 76%, one-third said their ultimate decision would depend on additional information regarding safety.

COURTESY PHOTO - Joseph Buliga"It's hard to get reliable information," Littlefield said. "They see news that might not be the most accurate, or headlines that don't show the full studies, and it's hard to know what to believe. But once I know there's reliable information, I'll make an informed decision."

Banks High School senior Joseph Buliga understands where Littlefield is coming from and has made the decision not to get the vaccine, based on his concerns around the development process.

"I personally believe the vaccine was rushed," he said. "So I'm not confident in the safety of it."

The Banks High student body president added that he also believes that no one should be forced to get it, either by way of mandate or restrictions.

"If you want to get the vaccine, more power to you, but I think the risks for me are very small," Buliga said. "Also, I think as an American you should have the right not to get it. I'm not anti-vaccine, I'm anti-control."

Brandon Carow, 28, works in the restaurant business and has started looking into the vaccination process. Like many his age, he's not overly concerned with the virus itself, but understands the value in him being vaccinated, both for the health of the collective and the economic benefits resulting from drastically reduced COVID-19 numbers.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is one of now two vaccines being administered in the state of Oregon. People ages 16 and older are eligible for the vaccine as of Monday, April 19."Personally, I'm not scared of COVID," Carow said. "The main reason I want to be vaccinated is for the safety of others and to open up the economy again."

He said that most of his friends have already been inoculated, due to being educators or working in the healthcare industry. But he added that most of those his age who haven't, unlike many of the high school- or college-age youth he knows, understand the overarching benefits of doing so and are willing to do what's best for the collective.

"Based on the people I know, you can tell there's a little bit of a difference in thinking between the two age groups," Carow said. "I don't blame them — I just think it comes with maturity."

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