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Latinx Youth Leader Becomes COVID-19 Warrior written by Antonio Sweeney

Photo: 17-year-old Tomás Tellois

Written by Antonio Sweeney

Tomás Tellois is a 17-year-old junior attending Genesee Early College at the University of Michigan- Flint. He is very involved within the Latinx community and the Genesee country area, where he serves on various boards and organizations.

“It’s all about meeting new people and making connections,” Tellois said.

At the start of the pandemic many around the world people weren’t sure about the seriousness of the virus.

Being an extrovert during the pandemic isn’t an easy challenge either.

“It was all in phases for me; like the lock down I wasn’t concerned about, but still concerned and skeptical of the government,” Tellois said. “I wasn’t educated on the virus. It was a big panic all over. When it came to Michigan, I became really nervous.”

While in the early stages of battling with pandemic challenges, Tellois got hit hard with the loss of a loved one.

“My grandmother passed away. So everything was coming at me at once. She passed away due to health reasons, (but) not related to COVID.”

COVID became more real when Tellois and his father got it weeks apart.

“My father and I got COVID. It impacted us physically and mentally. It really made me believe the panorama, and fear stuck with me, and has impacted my discussions, especially around my social life.”

With the COVID-19 vaccine being available in all 50 states for people who are 16 years and up, Tellois is thankful.

As an essential worker (grocery store employee), it really does affect me personally when I see people not wearing masks. It’s insulting, and I take it to heart. I was thankful to get the vaccine, yet cautious at the same time. I was a little nervous, and I said to myself ‘I want this to work!’“

Community members like Dr. Kent Key and Jasmine Hall, who are public health leaders, influenced Tellois’ decision to get the vaccine. He will be receiving his second shot of the Pfizer vaccine next week.

“Being with Flint Public Health Youth Academy and listening to our leaders who broke the science of the vaccine-that’s what made me feel confident about getting my shot.”

Now Tellois is at ease and wants to encourage his peers to get vaccinated to enjoy teenage festivals.

“Just listen. Take a breather if you want to do this and that. Do what they (health officials) are us telling to do now.”

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