Early in the pandemic, 16-year-old Megan Kosar was working at an ice cream shop in Woodbridge, Virginia. The shop required customers to wear face masks, and a customer who didn’t want to wear one began screaming at her.
“It was scary, and it was one of my first weeks at the job,” Kosar says. Today she works at a tanning salon and still hears from irate customers who oppose masks. The difference is that now she’s eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, which would reduce her risk of infection from those who won’t mask up.
Kosar is among the estimated 25 million adolescents age 12 to 17 in the U.S. eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use in this age bracket on May 10. Soon, the Moderna vaccine may be available to teens, too, after clinical trial results showed that it is also safe and effective for adolescents.
Most states require a parent’s or legal guardian’s consent for anyone under 18 to get a vaccine, including the COVID-19 shot. So what happens when a teen wants the vaccine but their parents won’t allow it? And when should a minor have the right to get any recommended vaccines their parents oppose?
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