Faced With Anti-Vaccination Parents, Teens Are Helping Each Other Get Covid Shots

The Ohio Gen Zer who made headlines two years ago for defying his mother to get his childhood immunizations has a warning for teens who are hesitant to Get Covid Shots vaccine because of parental opposition: have it if you can.

Ethan Lindenberger, 20, who received his first dose three weeks ago, believes it “could save someone’s life.”

“When faced with this, teenagers must balance factors such as, ‘I know vaccinations save lives, but I don’t want to become homeless,’” he told NBC News. “So I tell them, if you can’t share that romantic conversation with your parents and you’re of legal age, you should seriously consider the consequences.”

“Don’t have yourself thrown out or into deep trouble… but, if you’re ready to have the chat, just have your shots as soon as possible,” he said.

Summer Johnson McGee, Dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven, said she wholeheartedly agrees with the message.

“Ethan’s advice is dead on for inspiring teenagers to pursue schooling and having open and honest conversations with their parents about their need to be vaccinated,” she said. “Teenagers who disagree with their parents’ vaccine views are in a difficult position, but they should fight for their own right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated.”

Lindenberger made headlines in 2019 when he revealed on Reddit that he had never been vaccinated since his mother thought vaccinations were harmful. Over his mother’s protests, he got his vaccinations and then spoke before a Senate committee on how disinformation on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media drives the anti-vaccination campaign.

As a result, he received overwhelming acclaim from others, as well as ridicule and even death threats from members of the campaign.

lgnews-Faced-With-Anti-Vaccination.2Lindenberger spoke out as part of a national campaign to have as many teens vaccinated as possible so that anyone above the age of 12 is registered for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

According to Census Bureau statistics collected and studied by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, there are about 25 million children aged 12 to 17. Despite the fact that the risk of mortality or severe illness from Covid-19 is smaller in children than in adults, public health authorities have deemed vaccination of this demographic a crucial move toward fully reopening the country’s schools and economy.

Despite this, almost a quarter of parents polled by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor said they would not encourage their adolescents to be vaccinated, and 18 percent said they would only do so if the schools required it.

Children must deal with parental consent all over the world, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution and each state has its own set of laws.

According to a CNN report, almost all states need parental or guardian permission to prescribe a Covid-19 vaccine shot to children aged 12 to 15, the age range that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accepted for vaccines earlier this month.

Just five states have exceptions: North Carolina allows teens to accept vaccines without parental consent; Tennessee and Alabama allow teenagers 14 and older to receive vaccinations without parental consent; Oregon sets the limit at 15, and Iowa leaves it up to the health care provider to determine.

Like all other nations, children aged 12 to 15 must receive parental consent before administering the Covid-19 vaccine. However, for teens aged 16 to 18, it’s all over the place.

According to the vaccine awareness website TeenVax, minors in California cannot get the Covid-19 injection without their parents’ permission. In South Carolina, though, a 16-year-old can do so without parental consent.

The exact number of adolescents in this situation is unknown. However, VaxTeen’s Kelly Danielpour said that half of the dozen or so questions she receives every day are from teens dealing with parents who are opposed to them being vaccinated against Covid-19.

The 18-year-old from Los Angeles said, “I started this site prepandemic.” She said she was motivated to create an organization with her peers by adolescents on Reddit who wished to be vaccinated against their parents’ anti-vaccination views. Fighting myths about the HPV vaccine was one of her main goals at the period.

“However, after the pandemic, having Covid-19 vaccines has been the most pressing issue,” said Danielpour, who has already obtained the Moderna vaccine. “I am fortunate enough that my parents are pro-vaccine, but it seems that certain teenagers’ parents are opposed to allowing them to get vaccinated.”

The first step, she said, is providing teens with knowledge and tools that they can use while speaking with their parents — which has succeeded in some situations. She said she recently heard from a teen whose parents agreed to let her get vaccinated against Covid-19 after she used VaxTeen facts to persuade them.

If that doesn’t persuade the guardians, she says she aims to educate the teens about “minor self-consent.”

“It’s a consent and access issue,” Danielpour said.

Teens for Vaccines creator Arin Parsa, 13, told NBC News in an email that his organization has been “in the trenches helping many teens who face vaccine-hesitancy as well as radical anti-vax beliefs in their homes.”

“Many people are unaware that a shortage of teen immunization rights is not only a public health problem but also a serious mental health issue for many,” Parsa said.

Lindenberger has firsthand experience with the tumultuous family tensions that can arise when children and parents are on opposing sides of the vaccine debate. In reality, when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine, he finds himself at odds with his mother once more.

“A lot of the reasons she uses to condemn most vaccinations are what I get from her,” he added.

Lindenberger said his father, with whom he shares a home in Norwalk, Ohio, was supportive of his decision to get Covid-19 vaccinated.

He has, however, learned from adolescents who have been prevented from getting vaccinated by their guardians.

Lindenberger said, “I’ve had a few people reach out to me needing to know how to cope with parental pushback against vaccination.”

And he admits that there isn’t a simple solution.

“Clearly, there are concerns that need to be sorted out if the parent is opposed. “Getting vaccinated and asking your parents to kick rocks isn’t enough,” Lindenberger said. “This is a complicated family dynamic.”

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