Fearing his parents wouldn’t approve of his decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine but needing their signature, Andrew signed up for the appointment in secret and then sprang it on them at the last minute.

They said no. Andrew cursed at his mother and father and called them idiots. Andrew’s dad grabbed him by the shirt collar.

“He said, ‘You’re not getting this damn vaccine; you need to lower your voice. Watch your tone when you talk to me.’ It was, it was the first time my dad had ever done something like that — he grabbed my shirt and yelled in my face,” said Andrew, a 17-year-old student in Hoover, Ala.

In most states, minors need the consent of their parents in order to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Navigating family politics in cases of differing views has been a challenge for students and organizers of outreach campaigns, who have faced blowback for directly targeting young people.

President Joe Biden has encouraged every school district to promote vaccines, including with on-site clinics, to protect students as they return to school amid a resurgence of the coronavirus. But several governments and school districts have taken more neutral stances in areas where skepticism of the vaccine remains prevalent.

In Tennessee, the health department ended vaccination events and outreach aimed at minors following criticism of advertisements that featured children and included slogans like “Give COVID-19 vaccines a shot.” Republican lawmakers accused the health department of “peer pressuring” children to get the vaccine and criticized a top official who sent a memo to vaccine providers explaining that they could legally waive parental consent under Tennessee law.

Nationwide, half of people ages 12 to 17 have been vaccinated. That age group has been eligible for the Pfizer vaccine since May on an emergency use authorization. Trials are underway for younger children.

Full approval for the drug was granted by federal safety regulators recently for people 16 and older. Last week, the Los Angeles Unified School District school board voted to mandate vaccines for students 12 and older.

In Molalla, Ore., the mayor pressured a high school to cancel a vaccine drive on campus this semester, citing a $50 gift card incentive he equated with bribery. Many who called for an end to the vaccine drive expressed opposition to the vaccines, although Mayor Scott Keyser said he’s not against them.

Misinformation surrounding in-school vaccination efforts has also eroded trust between parents and school districts across the country.

School officials in Kettering, Ohio, received death threats in August after TikTok videos baselessly claimed the suburban Dayton district was vaccinating children without parental consent.

There was no truth to the claims — they came out before the school year began, and spring vaccine clinics required parents to be present — but they caused “huge hysteria” in the community nonetheless, according to Kettering City Schools Superintendent Scott Inskeep.

“Our families really are struggling with both information and disinformation,” Inskeep said. “It’s like a match being put to a gasoline fire. When it starts, it’s hard to put out.”

In a total of eight states, all in the Southeast and Pacific Northwest, providers can waive parental consent requirements — Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama, according to a May review by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In some areas, there have been efforts to make it easier for kids to get vaccinated.

State legislators in New York and New Jersey introduced laws that would allow teens to consent to vaccines without parental consent, but they were never passed. D.C. passed its law and is being sued by an anti-vaccine group. In New Mexico, health officials remade consent forms so that parents could sign them and send them with their kids, instead of having to show up in person.

Elsewhere, some officials have tried to give parents more say over vaccinations for teenagers.

In May, officials in two Oregon counties barred health officials from giving vaccines to kids without parental consent. Yamhill County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer and the mother of three teenagers defended the move saying, “Our children are not the property of the State of Oregon.”

But the counties backed down after state health officials issued a legal opinion affirming consent rights for children 15 and older. Berschauer continues to advocate against vaccine incentives for teens, calling the programs “peer pressure.”

On paper, Alabama’s law is one of the more liberal, allowing minors like Andrew to get the vaccine on their own. In practice, that’s nearly impossible. The Alabama Department of Public Health requires parental consent as a matter of policy and so do major pharmacies.

The day after the argument with his parents, Andrew’s father took him to the pharmacy and signed, without saying a word. Andrew’s father confirmed his son’s account but declined to be interviewed.

Andrew asked that his last name not be used out of fear of further upsetting his parents.

Pediatricians in some cases try to facilitate conversations between children and parents and promote the COVID-19 vaccine. But it doesn’t always work, even with parents who have accepted their pediatrician’s recommendation on other vaccines, including for HPV and the flu.

“They look at me like I’m suggesting that they feed their childhood poison when I’m recommending a COVID vaccine,” said Dr. Katrina Skinner, President of the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Andrew’s Hoover High School does not promote COVID-19 vaccinations on its website or social media channels, and there’s no indication the school will host a vaccine clinic. School officials did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment.

Alabama state health officials have been encouraging the vaccines among young people with a contest on the social media app TikTok that awarded $250 for the best video promoting COVID-19 vaccinations.

One of Andrew’s schoolmates, Rotimi Kukoyi, 17, was one of four contest winners. He shared the video with his 18,000 followers, built over two years by making jokes.

“I showed the CDC explaining how the vaccine is safe, and how it’s effective, and then I linked resources for people to sign up to get the vaccine,” Rotimi said.

(7) comments

Robert Fields

If anyone needs help understanding why GOP “leaders” are letting their constituents die and not discouraging the anti-vax and anti-mask behaviors, it’s apparently their best bet for lowering Biden’s polling and approval numbers. The GOP is literally letting some of the rank and file die and be ruined financially to help sow anger and discontent among supporters. I guess if you want to make a fascism omelette, you have to kill a few supporters. Even though 90% of those dying and hospitalized are republican, these are acceptable losses? Check!

See the article in Huffington Post, “GOP Embraces Vocal Anti-Vaxxers – Whose Actions Happen To Be Hurting The Economy”. It’s a cynical and heartless attempt to regain power, encouraging supporters to roll the dice with their lives, and their family’s and community’s lives, and the key thing here is that they need to lose to have the proper PR effect. It’s death, disability, full hospitals, full morgues, and conflict that the GOP wants and is feeding and encouraging in a supremely cynical attempt to set Americans up to want a change.

Meanwhile, Trump is vaccinated, all GOP senators are vaccinated, most GOP house members are vaccinated, almost all Fox News employees and hosts are vaccinated, etc. The “leaders” are vaccinated while they sit back and encourage more bad behaviors.

If anti-vaxxers would just take a moment to look at the states where this has been codified as policy, their hospitals are full, people are dying so fast the bodies are being stored in refrigerated trailers, their children are getting sick and dying, and some who live are having their health permanently changed with lung transplants and long haul symptoms.

Trump wants back in the White House. McConnell and Graham want Senate control, Gaetz, Jordan, Bobert, Greene, McCarthy, etc, want the House. The easiest, quickest, and surest way to do that is to encourage behaviors that kill supporters? I would have thought it was crazy but here we are in a world where we now know the Joint Chiefs were even terrified Trump was going to possibly launch a nuclear strike to remain in power and acted to prevent it. Killing off supporters is nothing compared to that.

I really wish the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers would look hard at who is being harmed by their bad behaviors. It’s mostly them, their families, their children, and their communities. Then look at who keeps telling them not to mask or vaxx - it’s their “leaders”.

It’s such a weird world now.

Kimberly Duran

Why would anyone take a vaccine that states it does not give immunity? Isn't that what a vaccine is supposed to do?

JB Weinberg

No vaccine is 100%. Some are very close to that. The annual flu vaccine is 40% - 50% effective but if a vaccinated person gets the flu, it is less serious case of the illness. Recent data shows 1 in 5000 people vaccinated for COVID contract the illness. 95% - 98% of COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths are unvaccinated people.

Bob Res

I’m fully vaccinated and happy I am.

Having said that I fully respect those who are slow to adapt, especially those whose ancestors have a history of medical abuse. I also understand and respect their right to think the vaccines have not been tested over a long enough period to convince them it’s safe,

Why? Well…..

“ FDA approval does not mean the Pfizer shots are safe, as evident by the VAERS data that shows 595,620 adverse events, including 13,608 deaths as of August 13, 2021, from the COVID injections. The deaths in this data includes approximately 9,024 deaths after receiving the Pfizer shot. Regulators also said they determined there are increased risks of myocarditis and pericarditis, or heart inflammation, following administration of the shot, particularly within the seven days following the second dose of the two-dose regimen. The prescribing information for the Pfizer injection also includes the following warnings: “The observed risk is higher among males under 40 years of age compared to females and older males. The observed risk is highest in males 12 through 17 years of age. Available data from short-term follow-up suggest that most individuals have had resolution of symptoms. However, some individuals required intensive care support. Information is not yet available about potential long-term health outcomes.”

Robert Fields

So, I’m curious why you decided to omit that VAERS data includes all events that could possibly be related to covid vaccinations even if it is highly unlikely that the vaccine caused a particular adverse event. Was that accidental or on purpose?

From the VAERS HHS website: “Healthcare providers are encouraged to report to VAERS any additional clinically significant AEs (adverse events) following vaccination, even if they are not sure if vaccination caused the event.”

Another important quote: “VAERS accepts reports of any adverse event following any vaccination.”

It’s a wide net on purpose so any adverse reactions that are linked to the vaccines can be detected and identified. That data that you are quoting is the unfiltered raw data that includes both actual issues with the vaccines and a whole lot of noise. It includes people who would have had heart attacks, strokes, or whatever other ailments anyway - with or without the vaccine.

The raw VAERS data should not be interpreted as adverse events actually caused by getting the vaccine. The data you quoted is by design greatly inflated over the actual issues. You are misusing the data. The numbers are not valid for the kind of use you are putting them to.

Here is a page that presents the actual incidences of adverse events. This is what the VAERS data is used for and is the product you should actually be paying attention to.


Yes, there have been adverse events linked to the vaccines but the actual incidences are much, much, lower than you try to present using VAERS. The real world adverse events are one or few in a million shots and many are treatable and do not result in death.

Citing VAERS without understanding what it is or why it is just creates hysteria in those who don’t understand it and keeps people from getting lifesaving vaccines.

Please don’t quote VAERS without fully disclosing that VAERS does not reflect actual risk. It’s only a tool to find these very rare events that you only find over millions and millions of injections. What is actually important is the data distilled from VAERS and presented on the page linked above.

JB Weinberg

Ooops - submitted too soon. So, if you want to avoid hospitalization and death, that is a good reason to get the vaccine.

Robert Fields

Immunity means absolute protection. Check the definition. No vaccine can provide immunity. What vaccines can do is greatly reduce the consequences of infection. Before your body can fight the virus, you have to be infected.

You aren’t using logic and need to better understand the terminology you are trying to use because the inconsistency that seems to be confusing you is of your own making.

Welcome to the discussion.

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