The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been granted conditional approval for children who are ages 12 and over. Clinical testing on even younger children is currently underway and the FDA plans to grant emergency authorization by summer’s end. The New York Times has pointed out one major issue with this messaging, though.
The number of children who are under the age of 18 who have received their jabs is lower than most groups in this country but the reasoning makes more sense than you would think. Their parents are the ones who are skeptical about the vaccines, so they are refusing to sign off on it. Some states have decided that they are going to loosen the restrictions and let the little ones decide for themselves.
This is pure lunacy. We have so many questions that need to be answered. First of all, is this idea even a legal one? The New York Times has more on this ongoing conversation:
“The vaccination of children is crucial to achieving broad immunity to the coronavirus and returning to normal school and work routines. But though Covid vaccines have been authorized for children as young as 12, many parents, worried about side effects and frightened by the newness of the shots, have held off from permitting their children to get them.
A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only three in 10 parents of children between the ages of 12 through 17 intended to allow them to be vaccinated immediately. Many say they will wait for long-term safety data or the prod of a school mandate. But with many teenagers eager to get shots that they see as unlocking freedoms denied during the pandemic, tensions are crackling in homes in which parents are holding to a hard no.”
The report from the Times leads off with a common scenario that has been unfolding in many homes ever since the vaccines became available to teenagers. A teenage girl wanted to get the shots but as a child of divorce, she could not. Her parents were not in agreement. Her father did not want her to receive vaccination and so he threatened her mother with a lawsuit and a custody battle.
As teenagers have been known to do, she was able to sneak off and get the shots without them finding out. New York state is looking to assist teenagers who are trapped in similar situations. They have a pending bill in their legislature that would allow children ages 14 and up to make their own decisions in this regard. It has yet to be signed into law.
Of course, this is not an issue that is unique to New Yorkers. As expected, this is an issue that has broken down along partisan lines. Blue states are more willing to extend these types of courtesies to the teenagers who are looking to get vaccinated, while red states are looking to keep the current restrictions in place for as long as possible.
Every state should have the freedom to make their own rules but this is the sort of issue where it might be better to reach a consensus overall. States should not be fueling this fire and giving kids the opportunity to defy their parents just because this is a hot-button topic at the moment.
Even the experts are in agreement that we do not have enough long-term data yet. To be honest, older people probably have less to fear than younger folks when it comes to potential side effects. Everyone has to weigh all of the factors that mean the most to them and make an educated decision.
That’s why laws that eliminate parental consent need to be preserved. It is not time for families to throw caution to the wind and vaccinate their children just because it seems like a good idea in the moment. Otherwise, they could be left dealing with serious long-term issues that have not yet revealed themselves.