School vaccine campaigns targeting students hit hard

Fearing his parents would not approve of his decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but requiring his signature, Andrew secretly signed up for the appointment, and then passed it on to them at the last minute. threw away.

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

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

In most states, minors need their parents’ consent to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Navigating family politics in matters of differing views has been a challenge for students and organizers of outreach campaigns, who have come under fire for directly targeting youth.

In Tennessee, the Department of Health ended vaccination events and outreach aimed at minors after criticism of ads featuring children and containing slogans such as “Give the Covid-19 vaccine a shot”. Republican lawmakers accused the Health Department of “peer pressure” to vaccinate children and criticized a top official who sent vaccine providers a memo explaining they were legally parent-child under Tennessee law. Can waive the consent of the father.

Nationwide, half of people aged 12-17 have been vaccinated. That age group is eligible for the Pfizer vaccine from May upon emergency use authorization. Trial is going on for small children.

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

In Mollah, Oregon, Mayer pressured a high school to cancel a vaccine drive on campus this semester, citing a $50 gift card incentive with bribes. Many who called for an end to the vaccine campaign opposed the vaccines, although Mayor Scott Keyser said he was not against them.

Misinformation about 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 a TikTok video 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 started, and spring vaccine clinics required parents to attend – but still, according to Kettering City School Superintendent Scott Inskip, they did not help the community. created a “great frenzy”.

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

According to a May review by Kaiser Family, 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. foundation.

In some areas, efforts have been made to make immunizations easier for children.

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. DC passed its law and is being prosecuted by an anti-vaccine group. In New Mexico, health officials revamped consent forms so that parents can sign and send them with their children, rather than showing them in person.

Elsewhere, some officials have tried to tell parents more about vaccinations for teens.

In May, officials in two Oregon counties barred health officials from giving vaccines to children 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’ support came back after state health officials issued a legal opinion reaffirming 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 vaccinated on their own. In practice, this is almost impossible. The Alabama Department of Public Health requires parental consent as a matter of policy, and so do major pharmacies.

The day after an 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 for fear of further upsetting his parents.

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

“They look at me like I’m suggesting 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.

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

Alabama state health officials are encouraging vaccines among youth with a contest on the social media app TikTok, which offered a $250 prize for the best video promoting COVID-19 vaccination.

One of Andrew’s classmates, 17-year-old Rotimi Kukoi, was one of four competition winners. He shared the video with his 18,000 followers, which was made in two years by making jokes.

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


Atanasio from Santa Fe, NM in New York Associated Press writer Ali Svensson contributed to this report.


Attanasio is a core member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that hires journalists to report on issues covered in local newsrooms. Follow Atanasio on Twitter.


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