Whose choice is it? Debates heat up between families about vaccinating kids

Medical experts say the vaccine will be available to kids ages 2+ by fall

Parental consent needed for teens to get COVID-19 shot in Virginia
Parental consent needed for teens to get COVID-19 shot in Virginia

LYNCHBURG, Va. – With teens now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, debates are heating up between families about whether to vaccinate their kids.

“My daughter is 13. As soon as it was approved for 12 to 15-year-olds, she got vaccinated,” NRV Health Director Noelle Bissell says. “She wanted to get vaccinated.”

For Bissell and her teen, the decision to roll up their sleeves was personal. The vaccine approval for children ages 12 and up is sparking discussion among Virginia families as parents ultimately have the final say when it comes to making medical decisions for their kids.

“Being that mine is five, I would definitely say that’s my choice,” mom Ashlyn Dendtler says.

While Dendtler’s daughter isn’t quite old enough yet to get the shot, it may be a decision she’ll have to face soon. Health officials say come fall, the vaccine could be offered to kids two-year-old and up.

“If she was 10 or older, I would definitely giver her the opportunity to make that decision,” Dendtler says. “I would sit down and have a conversation with her. If she understood and wanted the vaccine, I would provide her with those resources to do so.”

For many other parents like Red Sayles, it’s mom and dad know best.

“We just didn’t think it was a healthy choice for our children,” Sayles says. “They’re too small to make their own decision. Their mind is still developing, and they can’t reason the way we do. Any kid under 18, we will make the decision for them.”

Meanwhile, health experts say they’re still trying to reason with parents.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that these vaccines have any interference with puberty, hormones, fertility or anything,” Bissell says.

Bissell recommends families sit down with a pediatrician and make an educated decision together.

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