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To Vaccinate Younger Teens, States and Cities Look to Schools, Camps, Even Beaches

  • May 11, 2021

Garrett Bates and Precious Wright, who live in Hollywood, Fla., have tentatively decided to get themselves vaccinated, but they are holding off on their four children, ages 12 through 19, just now.

It has been a tough year: Two of the children attended school in person, two were remote. Yet, even though vaccination offers the possibility that all their children will have a more engaged, carefree life, Ms. Wright wants to see how others their age fare first.

“From what I know, you take the vaccine and some people feel sick and it lasts a couple of hours or a day,” she said. “My immune system is stronger than the kids’. I don’t know if they could shake off those effects as quickly as mine.”

For some teenagers, anxious about bringing the virus home to vulnerable relatives, the vaccine represents liberation — from those worries as well as constraints on seeing friends.

“The kids have ‘shot envy,’” Dr. Talib said.

Dr. Nicole Baldwin, a pediatrician in Cincinnati whose health-related TikTok videos now feature one for the Pfizer vaccine, said she was surprised by how excited many of her teenaged patients were about the vaccine. “I’ll ask, ‘Have your friends gotten it?’ And they’re saying, ‘Yes!’”

But she also has patients, including those with high-risk medical conditions that make them vulnerable to Covid, who are not getting it. “Their parents say no,” she said.

When parent and child are at odds about the vaccine, the pediatrician has a tricky path to walk. And when divorced parents disagree over whether their child should get the vaccine, those discussions become even more difficult.

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