US Parents and Governments Struggle With Teen Vaccinations

Governments in the United States are grappling with the question of whether young people can decide for themselves whether to vaccinate against the coronavirus.


Legislation is underway in some states to allow teens to get vaccinated without parental consent, while others are tightening the rules, according to The New York Times.

The issue is not only divisive in politics but also within families. A recent poll found that only three in ten parents of teens aged 12 and over are okay with their children getting vaccinated right away. Many other people take a wait-and-see attitude because they want more information about possible long-term effects. Their children are sometimes not happy about this, and parents do not always agree with each other.

The US has approved Pfizer/BioNTech’s corona vaccine for youth 12 years and older. Whether parents have the final say on vaccinating their minor children may depend on where they live. In New Jersey and New York, politicians are preparing legislation that will allow young people as young as 14 to decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated. Minnesota is trying to get that age limit to 12 for some kids. That is a nightmare for governments in some other parts of the country.

For example, Linn County in Oregon has instructed clinics to vaccinate minors against the coronavirus only if they have permission from their parents. Teenagers in that state usually are allowed to decide for themselves whether they want a vaccine from the age of 15. However, the authorities make an exception for the corona vaccines. In states like Tennessee and Alabama, politicians want to prevent public schools from requiring students to be vaccinated.

Teens tell the paper they want a vaccine to protect older relatives or because they want to resume their social lives. A 15-year-old girl from Palm Beach County said her friends often triumphantly report on social media that they did get a shot. “Five of my friends were having a party and invited me in, but then they asked if I had been vaccinated,” the teen said. “And because of that, I can’t go. That hurts.”

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