School vaccine campaigns targeting students face blowback
(AP) — 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, Alabama.
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 12-17 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, Oregon, 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.