Commentary: Minors need to be in control of their vaccination status

With the topic of COVID-19 vaccinations dividing the home, it is more important than ever for minors to have control over their vaccination status.


According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, around 20% of guardians refuse to vaccinate their teens. This has resulted in many teens feeling unprotected and uncared for during the pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic plows forward, it has become increasingly obvious that many minors’ health are being held hostage by their guardians and the legislature that prevents them from receiving the vaccine. 

In a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 20% of guardians refuse to vaccinate their teens (ages 12-17).

This has resulted in health-concerned teens feeling unsafe and disregarded by the systems in place.

Minors SHOULD have control of their vaccination status. We are part of stopping the spread and taking control of our health is a personal decision that extends far beyond guardianship. 

Guardianship laws are in place to protect minors’ health and future prospects, but preventing young adults from receiving the vaccine only serves to hurt them and their community. These policies should be for blocking access to addictive drugs or intervening with major, unnecessary surgeries, not prohibiting a life-saving vaccine.

The bottom line of this issue is that minors should be in charge of their health, which in many other areas they are.

For instance, teens are in control of their sexual health. In most states, teens can request contraceptives from clinics and receive vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases such as HPV or hepatitis B without parental consent.

Minors can also recieve an abortion without their parent’s consent, a much bigger decision than simply getting a shot. 

For many years teens have been allowed to take aspects of their health into their own hands, but because of COVID-19’s taboo, minors don’t get a choice.

For many years teens have been allowed to take aspects of their health into their own hands, but because of COVID-19’s taboo, minors don’t get a choice.

— Justin Ha

This is a choice that saves lives, that is scientifically backed and not only protects the child, but those around them.

COVID-19 isn’t magic. We know what it is and we know how to prevent getting it. The pros and cons of the vaccine are clear and teens have more than enough information to make an informed decision.

Moreover, this isn’t a harmful choice. It isn’t a massive risk for your child or going to give them long term health effects. It is a personal health choice that’s risks are as bad as scraping your knee or forgetting to wash your hands.

According to the CDC, three in every one million individuals experience anaphylaxis after receiving the vaccine and rarely is it fatal. To put this into perspective: if you administered a vaccination every second for 11 days there would only be three examples of negative effects.

In fact, COVID-19 will kill more people tomorrow than the vaccine has in the entire time it has been publicly available.

No, the vaccine is not perfect. Scientists cannot guarantee that the vaccine is 100% effective, but even still, the results speak for themselves.

Unvaccinated individuals make up 98.9% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 99.2% of COVID-19 deaths. It is clear that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

The studies are in. Getting a vaccine is protecting you and it’s protecting those around you and if you don’t want to get a vaccine that’s fine. Everyone deserves a choice.

A problem arises when guardians think that their child’s vaccination status is theirs to decide. 

Teens deserve the chance to take care of their own health. They deserve to protect themselves and to practice healthy, scientifically supported decision making.

We shouldn’t pretend that a 17 year old can’t wrap their head around the vaccine.   Lawmakers need to pull their heads out of the sand and treat teens like humans.

The laws preventing minors from controlling their vaccination status are not responsible. They set an unwise double standard, cherry picking where teens can control their own health. 

Why can minors in Oregon give consent for the COVID-19 vaccine while those in California can’t?

Furthermore, what rights teens do get have been picked out of a hat at random, leaving minors confused and bitter with the obvious hypocrisy baked into medical laws for young adults.

Minors are connected to their parents in many ways. Financially. Socially. Residentially.

But a minor’s health is completely their own.