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PSA seeks to warn teens about dangers of vaping amid coronavirus crisis

'They get real sick,' infectious disease doctor says of teens
Posted at 9:08 PM, Dec 10, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — There is a new push to get teenagers to stop vaping as the coronavirus crisis rages on.

The Palm Beach County Behavioral Health Coalition released a new public service announcement this week, as doctors continue to warn studies show vaping is linked to a higher risk of COVID-19 for teens and young adults, which could include more severe symptoms.

"As soon as the pandemic started, we transitioned all of our efforts from in-person to online," Alexa Lee, director of programs for the coalition, said.

The students are providing more education through webinars and social media posts as coronavirus cases continue to surge.

"The patients (who) are coming in are younger, No. 1, but they're sicker," Dr. Leslie Diaz, an infectious disease specialist in northern Palm Beach County, said. "They get real sick."

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Diaz said the young patients she has treated, who admit to vaping, require more oxygen and their X-rays show more inflammation compared to others in the same age group who do not vape.

"It is more important than ever to stop and to use your resources," Lee said.

The coalition said the Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey found, before the pandemic, 16% of high school-aged students in Palm Beach County vaped in the last 30 days, but it appears the education and advocacy is working.

"The rate of vaping of teens has gone down in the last two years," Lee said.

The coalition is also hosting a poster and video PSA contest for K-12 students in Palm Beach County on vaping and underage drinking prevention. Two $1,000 scholarships and other prizes are up for grabs. Learn more at www.pbcBusPoster.org.