A teenager in Arizona is hurting: worrying about his unvaccinated parents, worrying about his own health, and lamenting the things he’s missing because all his friends are vaccinated—and vaccination is required for many school and social events.
Another teenager, who lives in Florida, is keeping her vaccination a secret from both her divorced parents: the father who emphatically opposed this move; and the mother she wants to spare from her father’s wrath.
And then there’s Ethan Lindenberger in Ohio, who went public with his efforts to stress the importance of vaccinations in general with testimony before the Senate two years ago, when he was 18. He finally received the Covid-19 vaccine in early May of this year.
He tells his peers:
“Don’t get yourself kicked out or seriously in trouble…but, if you’re able to have [a loving] conversation, please get your shots as soon as possible.”
As if being a teenager weren’t fraught with enough sturm und drang, a number of kids who have made it through the challenging pandemic year are now struggling with this potentially life-and-death parent/child clash.
A Harris poll recently found that roughly one in four parents say they won’t vaccinate their kid against Covid-19. Even odder is this finding, as reported in Forbes: “more than 10% intend to only have their child receive one dose, which may not be enough to protect against the Delta variant now taking hold in the U.S.”
Some of those polled were waiting for more research in children; others either were opposed to vaccination or felt Covid-19 didn’t warrant vaccination.
This vaccine hesitancy has become especially dangerous because of the Delta variant, the newest and most contagious strain of the coronavirus to date. Dr. Anthony Fauci has confirmed that it’s now the most prevalent source of the disease—and its growth is rapid.
A UK study found that children and adults younger than 50 were 2.5 times more likely to be infected with the Delta variant. And, noted Inci Yildirim, MD, PhD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Yale Medicine:
“As older age groups get vaccinated, those who are younger and unvaccinated will be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 with any variant. But Delta seems to be impacting younger age groups more than previous variants.”
Concerns about reports of myocarditis in vaccinated young men have undoubtedly played a role. But two emergency department physicians and an epidemiologist put those cases in perspective in a New York Times essay titled “Covid Is a Greater Risk to Young People Than the Vaccines.”
They write that vaccinating young people against Covid-19 is “crucial” and “This remains true even when we consider the worst possible outcomes from vaccination.”
The choice, they assert, isn’t between vaccinating or doing nothing: it’s between vaccinating or getting the disease, which is now expected to remain with us indefinitely.
They specifically address the issue of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart lining that’s been found.
To make their case, they use numbers of hospitalizations.
Among fully vaccinated Americans 17 and under (6.14 million), there have been 653 hospitalizations lasting one day or longer that were “possibly related” to the vaccine.
In contrast, in unvaccinated young people who have caught the disease, the hospitalizations are more severe, some lasting at least 6 days, and nearly one-third of patients have entered the intensive care unit. To date, there have been 326 deaths of American youngsters age 17 and under.
And some of those infected developed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, in which “heart complications of the syndrome are both more common overall and far more long-lasting than what’s seen with vaccine-related myocarditis among teenagers.”
As these unvaccinated youngsters age, if they become infected with Covid-19, their risks of complications increase.
Finally, we need kids vaccinated to protect everyone.
“Bad things inevitably happen to a small number of people after any vaccination, a few caused by the vaccines, but most not. The risk of vaccination must be compared against the risk of the disease that a vaccine prevents, not against zero risk. The choice is between getting vaccinated against Covid-19 and eventually getting it.
“Given the current data, the conclusion is clear: The virus is more dangerous.”
Both groups say the information they provide has enabled these young people to persuade their parents.
It’s imperative that anyone in contact with hesitant adults—or their eager-to-be-vaccinated kids—tries to break through the dangerous misinformation/disinformation.
Even those of us who are fully vaccinated and doing everything right have a stake in this effort. The Delta variant will not be the last, and each succeeding mutation has proven to be more contagious than its predecessors.