COVID-19 vaccine parental consent – do teens need it before Pfizer vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccine parental consent

This article about COVID-19 vaccine parental consent was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On May 10, 2021, the FDA authorized Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 for emergency use in teens aged 12-15. Even before that, the vaccine was authorized in teens 16 and up. This raises a question that has been coming up occasionally – if teens in this age group want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but their parents object, can they do it without parental consent? The short answer is that it depends. 

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Pfizer COVID vaccine authorized for use in 12-15-year-olds

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

The FDA has expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to now include 12-15-year-olds. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet soon to make the final recommendations on use of the vaccine in that age group in the USA.

This is an important step in putting the pandemic behind us and allows American families to begin to return to a normal life.

Even though parents have been able to easily get the vaccine, it was only available to adults (although the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was indicated for 16 years and up). This new authorization means that schools can consider opening up if this age group is vaccinated, and may allow teenagers to attend summer camps and get-togethers with friends.

This broadening of the age group resulted from a clinical trial which enrolled 2,260 participants between the ages of 12 and 15. The young teens were given either two doses of the vaccine (same dosage as adults) or a placebo three weeks apart.

Photo by Marisol Benitez on Unsplash

The researchers recorded 18 cases of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in the placebo group and none in the vaccine group. This showed it to be highly effective at preventing symptomatic illness.

Additionally, the vaccine was also very safe for these children, with similar minor side effects as those seen in the larger clinical trial participants, ages 16-25. Fevers were observed more frequently in the vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds, about 20%, compared to 17% in the 16- to 25-year-olds.

As I wrote previously, we probably need to reach 80% vaccination rates to have full herd immunity, and we will need to include children in that number to even get close. So this is important good news to defeating this pandemic.

So, let me sum this up:

  • The Pfizer COVID vaccine was shown to be highly effective in preventing symptomatic disease in 12- to 15-year-olds.
  • The vaccine was shown to be extremely safe in the same age group.

There’s plenty of vaccines available in the USA. So once ACIP recommends it for this age group, take your kids down to your local vaccine hub and get it done!

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COVID-19 vaccine facts and myths – UPDATED info about the new vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine facts

There are so many myths about the COVID-19 vaccine, I wanted to post some facts about the new vaccines which we can use for debunking purposes. I used to think that the HPV vaccine brought the most hatred and misinformation from the anti-vaccine world, but it’s clear that the new COVID-19 vaccines are their new targets.

This article will only focus on the five vaccines that I believe will eventually receive FDA or European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval – the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ Janssen), and Novavax vaccines. I remain unconvinced that any vaccine made in China or the Russian Sputnik V vaccine will ever get approved by countries with robust drug regulatory agencies. However, if they are, I will certainly add them to a future iteration of this list.

I’m going to make this in a basic chart form for ease of use. I will link to supporting evidence wherever relevant.

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COVID herd immunity – vaccine denial may make that impossible

person aspirating the vaccine from the vial

The only way to COVID-19 herd immunity is going to be via vaccines, but people throughout the world, especially in the USA, are refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. The anti-vaccine world is doing everything it can to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about these vaccines, despite our efforts to counter the disinformation campaign.

Let’s talk about COVID-19 herd immunity and how vaccines are important. And why we probably can’t hit herd immunity, a terrible consequence of the anti-vaccine rhetoric and lies.

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COVID-19 vaccine shedding – another anti-vaccine myth to scare people

COVID-19 vaccine shedding

Here we go again – an expensive, privileged Miami private school has banned teachers who received the COVID-19 vaccine because of “shedding” concerns. Yes, you read that right, the school wrote to teachers that “we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known.”

The school’s co-founder, Leila Centner, claimed that those people who had received the COVID-19 vaccine can somehow shed the spike protein, which in turn can cause menstrual cycle irregularities, miscarriages, and sterility in other women just by being in close proximity to vaccinated people who are shedding something.

Centner wrote, “we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known.” She must get this nonsense from Kelly Brogan, anti-vaccine quack, who seems to have something with Centner and this school

Centner cited debunked claims that the vaccine causes infertility based on “reports have surfaced recently of non-vaccinated people being negatively impacted by interacting with people who have been vaccinated. Let’s be clear that that the scientific consensus about this vaccine is that is very effective and carries few risks.

Simply put, COVID-19 vaccine shedding does not exist, but I will spend a few moments debunking it again.

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COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy – the CDC now recommends it

pregnancy COVID-19 vaccine

The CDC just announced that it recommends the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy to protect the health of the mother and the developing fetus. The CDC stated that there are “no safety concerns” among women in their third trimester and for their newborn babies.

Despite the claims of COVID-19 deniers everywhere, the disease is dangerous and can cause both short- and long-term harm to anyone, and that means pregnant persons and their newborn babies. That’s why the COVID-19 vaccine is so important.

Let’s take a look at what the CDC said and why pregnant persons should get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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COVID-19 vaccines herd immunity – ignore anti-vaxxer disinformation

person holding syringe

The only way to herd immunity to this pandemic is with COVID-19 vaccines, but still, people are refusing the vaccine, not only in the USA but also throughout the world. But the anti-vaccine world is doing everything it can to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about these vaccines.

Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious diseases that can occur when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, by vaccines or infection, which reduces the risk of infection by members of the community who lack that immunity. Although we don’t have a solid estimate for herd immunity levels for COVID-19, it is estimated to be between 60 and 75%.

Without herd immunity, there are a number of consequences. People who cannot get vaccinated or are immunocompromised will always be at risk of contracting the disease. The virus will continue to be transmitted, which will lead to more dangerous mutations. And there are local outbreaks of COVID-19 across the world that could bring the disease back to the USA and many other countries where we don’t reach herd immunity.

A large group of COVID-19 deniers and anti-vaxxers want to create herd immunity “naturally” instead of using vaccines – that is essentially genocide since so many people will die or suffer long-term consequences.

We need to get the COVID-19 vaccines into as many people as we can so that we can reach herd immunity. Right now, about 25% of Americans may refuse to get the vaccine, and that means we probably cannot reach herd immunity.

mbedThis article is just a list of my articles that can be useful in your arguments with the anti-vaxxers and individuals who are “on-the-fence.”

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COVID vaccine updates – large clinical trials will be unnecessary

covid vaccine updates

The questions I keep getting are will we need COVID-19 vaccine updates and how fast could we get them. These are important questions going forward, especially since there are some dangerous variants that seem to be spreading widely.

I think we should look at the model for flu vaccines – each year the antigens are targeted by the vaccine are changed slightly to improve effectiveness. Admittedly, with the flu vaccine, it’s hard to do since the influenza virus can mutate rapidly.

However, regulatory agencies worldwide do not require massive clinical trials for the new formulations, as long as nothing else changes except for the antigens. That’s the model that we will probably require for future COVID-19 vaccine updates in the future.

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Vaccine effectiveness – correcting misunderstandings about COVID-19 vaccines

vaccine effectiveness

I keep reading how people think that when a COVID-19 vaccine is reported to have 95% effectiveness it must mean that they have a 5% chance of catching COVID-19 after being vaccinated. But effectiveness doesn’t quite mean that, and I wanted to clarify.

Part of the reason this needs clarification is that until we have herd immunity against COVID-19 (along with all of the variants), it’s important to practice all of the public health measures like wearing a mask and social distancing even if you have been vaccinated.

So, this will be a little bit of mathematical analysis of vaccine effectiveness, so that you know what it means.

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COVID-19 vaccine blood clots – the FDA and EMA are doing the right thing

COVID-19 vaccine blood clots

If you have been watching the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, you know that blood clots have become a concern with the vaccines from JNJ (Johnson & Johnson-Janssen) and AstraZeneca. Shockingly, some pro-vaccine types are trying to dismiss these concerns by posting ridiculous memes that try to compare blood clots from these vaccines to ones from birth control pills or smoking.

Setting aside the fact that memes are for the intellectually and scientifically weak, such as anti-vaxxers, these memes are trying to compare apples to bowling balls. Furthermore, ignoring these potential links play right into the hands of the anti-vaccine crowd.

mbedIn my not-so-humble opinion, the US FDA, European Medicines Agency (EMA), and other health agencies across the world have done the right thing by “pausing,” or limiting the use of the vaccines from JNJ and AstraZeneca. Science has been doing the right thing with regards to the COVID-19 vaccine blood clots issue.

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