Teens With Anti-Vaxxer Parents Are Helping One Another Get COVID-19 Shots

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Anti-vaxxers have been around since, well, since the invention of vaccines. In pre-COVID days, some teens who wanted to get vaccinated for preventable childhood diseases had to deal with parents who were completely against vaccines. In some cases, the teens had to wait until they turned 18 in order to get vaccinated without their parents’ approval.

Now 20 years old, Ethan Lindenberger gained nationwide recognition after taking to Reddit to explain that his mother wouldn’t allow him to get vaccinated. Eventually, he went behind her back to get vaccinated anyway. He even spoke to a Senate committee about the ordeal and pointed fingers at social media sites like Facebook for spreading vaccine misinformation.

Now that teens age 12+ are eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, approximately 25% of them are dealing with pushback from their parents who refuse to let them get the vaccine. In most states, parental approval is required for the 12-15 age group to receive the vaccine, and in some states anyone under 18 needs their parents to approve it.

Lindenberger knows that getting vaccinated can be a complicated issue for these teens. He explained, “If your parent is opposed, clearly there are issues that need to be worked out. It’s not as simple as getting vaccinated and telling your parents to kick rocks. There is a complex family dynamic here.”

In an effort to try to help teens understand vaccines including the COVID-19 vaccine, 18-year-old Los Angeles resident Kelly Danielpour started the website VaxTeen. She started the site pre-pandemic, but now, the COVID-19 vaccine is the main issue she receives questions about, especially questions about what to do when your parents don’t want you to get vaccinated.

In order to help teens talk to their parents about getting vaccinated, she is arming them with a lot of information, like talking points and information about common vaccine myths. She told NBC, “It’s an issue of access, as well as consent.”

Danielpour believes that the first step is for teens to talk to their parents about why they want to get vaccinated, and she knows that the information on VaxTeen is helping some teens convince their parents to let them get vaccinated. At least one teen has told her that using the information on VaxTeen has made it possible to get parental approval for the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a few states, teens don’t need parental approval to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and Danielpour breaks down that information on VaxTeen as well. For example, in Tennessee and Alabama, anyone over the age of 14 can get vaccinated without parental consent. Meanwhile, in California, anyone under the age of 18 needs parental approval.

If you’re a teen, you can find out what the rules are in your state by clicking on your state here. 

Do you know any teens who haven’t gotten vaccinated for COVID-19 due to their parents’ opinions about vaccinations?