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COVID-19 : Perspectives from Youth in Detention Background: The COVID-19 pandemic amplified health disparities among youth in detention. Understanding perspectives of these youth on the pandemic and COVID-19 vaccination may identify strategies to mitigate pandemic-related health disparities in this group. Objective: To explore perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic, effect on detention experience & the COVID vaccine among youth in detention. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of a study examining healthcare needs and experiences of youth in detention. We recruited a convenience sample of youth (14-17 years) detained in urban midwestern juvenile detention centers from January-November 2021. We conducted semi-structured individual interviews & used a thematic analysis approach to code interview transcripts, after which codes were consolidated into themes. In early interviews, participants spontaneously discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting addition of interview questions to further explore this. Participants completed an anonymous demographic questionnaire at the conclusion of the interview. Results: 15 youth (Table 1) discussed COVID-19 to date, with interviews ongoing. Youth had varied opinions on the gravity of the pandemic. Most thought that COVID-19 was a significant issue, but some felt the pandemic was fictitious. Youth obtained information primarily from family, friends, social media, and commercial news sources. Most youth voiced that they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine. Many expressed general distrust of the vaccine. Concerns included the speed of vaccine development and implementation and misconceptions about how the vaccine works. Some also felt they are immune to COVID-19 due to their youth and health. Among those who were vaccinated, parental preference and personal gain (i.e., travel, sport participation) drove vaccination acceptance. Youth suggested targeted educational strategies to increase youth vaccine uptake. Youth described negative impacts of the pandemic on their detention experiences. Visitation was limited with bans on personal touch, halts placed on packages being delivered from the outside community, and a 10-day quarantine was mandated at detention entry. See Table 2 for illustrative quotes. Conclusions: Youth in detention have varied perspectives on the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccine misconceptions and perceived lack of vulnerability to COVID-19 contributed to vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine uptake by youth in detention may be improved by partnering with parents, highlighting personal gain, and youth-targeted education.




Presented at PAS; Denver, Colorado; April 22-26, 2022

Healthcare Needs and Experiences of Detained Youth

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