Parenting

More than 1,000 parents voted, here’s what they say about vaccinating their 12- to 15-year-olds

"This is his chance at life, for the summer and beyond," said Christina from Boston.

Malu Ramirez, 14, receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The mass coronavirus inoculation campaign for children kicked off in earnest in the United States on Thursday after the federal government recommended making the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available to those aged 12 to 15. ( Aaron Nesheim / The New York Times

Now that 12- to 15-year olds are eligible for a coronavirus vaccine, we surveyed parents about whether they’ll allow their children to get it and more than half of over 1,000 respondents said yes.

Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved use of the Pfizer vaccine for kids between the ages of 12 and 15 last week, more than 600,000 children in that age group have been vaccinated in the U.S, according to Reuters. The vaccine has been available under an emergency use authorization to those age 16 and older since December.

Out of 1,020 parents who responded to Boston.com’s survey, 645 (63 percent) said they will definitely get the vaccine for their children, 260 (25 percent) said they will not, and 115 (11 percent) said they aren’t sure.

Some parents expressed approval of a possible vaccine mandate at schools, while others were firmly against it. Needham superintendent Dan Gutekanst said he will “absolutely require” the vaccine for students once it is fully approved by the FDA and not just approved for emergency use.

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Ahead, find out what local parents had to say about vaccinating their kids.

Responses were lightly edited for clarity.

Yes, my child will definitely get the vaccine

“I know that there are risks, but we need to put an end to the pandemic and get kids back to school and this will help,” wrote a parent.

“I want my kids vaccinated so we can protect ourselves and others,” wrote Nicole, the mother of 15-year-old twins. “We want to get back some normal.”

“She’s first in line!” wrote Jen, the mother of a 13-year-old. “Bring back those sleep overs, camp, birthday parties and all the fun we will never take for granted again.”

“I’m grateful for it,” wrote Pamela, the mother of a 15- and 17-year-old. “My 15-year-old is the most vulnerable in the family with a history of asthma.”

“My daughter is 13 and will be getting vaccinated,” wrote Steve. “She had COVID last month and does not want to get it again and asked us if she can get the vaccine. We will honor her request.”

“If we have to make an appointment, I’ll be refreshing like mad — if it’s walk-ins, you can bet I’m bringing him the first possible date,” wrote Christina from Boston, the mother of a 12-year-old son. “To have a chance for him to hang out with friends in his room, to play cards and have sleepovers and horse around with no masks and no distancing? This is his chance at life, for the summer and beyond.”

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“Hallelujah! I’m incredibly happy that my children (ages 13 and 15) can get a vaccine and be as safe from this terrible disease as possible,” wrote Adam. “How lucky are we that we get to live in a time where smart people have the resources and ability to create a safe and effective weapon against a global pandemic in enough quantities for the entire population of our planet. Great news and a total WIN for science!”

“Get the vaccine,” wrote Chad, the father of a 12- and 13-year-old. “This is our way to getting back to normal. I trust doctors and our public health community.”

“100%, without hesitation we will have our 13-year-old daughter get the vaccine,” wrote Brian. “We believe the benefits far outweigh any side effects and trust in science. We are hoping approval will come soon for our 9-year-old daughter to also receive the vaccine.”

“I think it’s great that they have approved the Pfizer vaccine,” wrote Cait, the parent of a 15- and 19-year-old. “Vaccines work. I have seen first hand the devastation of Covid in families as I work in health care. I am grateful we have the vaccine available.”

“I’m eager to get my son Gus, 12, vaccinated before sleep away camp this summer,” wrote a parent. “Although it’s unlikely someone of his age would be severely affected by Covid, we saw first hand that kids his age are absolutely spreading Covid! It helps everyone if the kids are vaccinated.”

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“The more people we get vaccinated the better,” wrote Jubal, the parent of a 13- and 15-year-old. “Time to end the pandemic! Anyone refusing to vaccinate better have a great way to fix this pandemic because there is no other way out.”

“I have done the research and the vast majority of medical professionals, including our pediatricians office is in favor of it, so we will be getting our children vaccinated this month,” wrote Catherine, the mother of a 12- and 13-year-old. “We would like to have them fully vaccinated before they head to sleep away camp in July and on a family vacation out west in August.”

“I am hopeful they will get approval for younger children very soon as well,” wrote Paul, the father of three children ages 6, 10, and 14.

“Grateful,” wrote another parent. “Time to get these kids back to life.”

“There are safe vaccines for many dangerous infectious diseases,” wrote Patrick, the father of a 14- and 17-year-old. “Why shouldn’t I give my kids the best chance to stay healthy against COVID?”

“I think that it is the only way to get school and school activities back to a new normal,” wrote the parent of a 9- and 13-year-old. “This should be no different than the other vaccines that children require to be able to attend a public school.”

“I am delighted,” wrote a parent. “My daughter, Lexi, is 14 and has multiple chronic illnesses. She has not been able to access critical services, such as pool therapy, due to the pandemic, and we have all been extra careful to avoid infecting her. Now that she can get vaccinated, so many treatment options open up for her, and our lives can get much closer to normal. I can hardly wait!”

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“I’m glad they approved this expansion of the Pfizer vaccine,” wrote Eric, the father of a 15-year-old. “I’ll have better peace of mind now that my youngest is vaccinated. My 2 older kids are already vaccinated, and we’d like to see their grandparents without running any risks.”

“Everyone else in the household is vaccinated, and I will sleep better knowing that the entire household is protected,” wrote Kevin, the father of a 13-year-old daughter.

“It’s great!” wrote Jordan, the father of a 12-year-old. “It will give me peace of mind with my kid doing activities and going back to school. Also, it will help close the gap for all the adults who are unwilling to get vaccinated.”

“This is a wonderful development that will further allow us to return to normalcy,” wrote Arthur, who has a 14-year-old daughter. “Should be mandatory for all school age kids. If parents don’t want to vaccinate their children, let them home school; after all, they know better than the scientists.”

No way will my child get this vaccine

“Never in a million years,” wrote a reader.

“Hell no!” wrote Kelly, the mother of a 17-year-old. “I will not put an emergency use only vaccine into my child!”

“My kids are 12 and 15,” wrote a parent. “They are arguably the lowest risk age group, and we’re entering the summer months where almost all activities are outside. There’s no understanding of potential long term effects and I won’t let my kids be the canaries in the coal mine.”

“It’s insane to claim it is 100% effective and that it doesn’t have any serious side effects when each individual’s health and gene makeup varies greatly,” wrote another. “I will not set my child on fire to keep others warm.”

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“I do not think enough information is known,” wrote another. “I will not use my kids as lab rats.”

“There is no covid health emergency for 12 – 15 year olds,” wrote a parent. “Therefore, this age group should not be exposed to a vaccine being administered on an emergency use basis.”

“You’re forgetting a very important adjective: ’emergency,'” wrote a parent. “This vaccine, with unprecedented technology on a still-not-fully-understood virus, is for emergency use. I don’t plan on letting my teen be a guinea pig.”

“Sorry, I’m not an ‘anti-vaxxer,’ but when it comes to my child I need more than an EUA to justify this,” wrote Jeff from Framingham, the father of a 12-year-old child. “Following the science and data, Covid is less dangerous than the flu for 12-14 year olds.”

“Stupid stupid stupid,” wrote a parent.

“I would never force my child to take an experimental vaccine,” wrote Chris, the father of a 12-year-old daughter. “None of these vaccines have been fully approved by the FDA.”

“This virus is of no risk to children yet we have violated their freedoms and threatened their mental health through excessive government lockdowns — so sure, let’s stick needles in them now and inject their bodies with an unnecessary foreign substance!” wrote another.

“Not going to subject my 15-year-old to an unknown vaccination, that no one can guarantee with certainty won’t have any harmful effects down the line,” wrote Bill from Saugus.

“There is no reason to give an experimental vaccine with unknown long term effects to an age group that has had little issues with covid,” wrote one parent. “I will absolutely not allow my children to get this. My kids are 18, 14, and 8. I am a Democrat and do not understand the partisan division in this. My body, my choice applies here too. There is no one-size-fits-all in medicine.”

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“The risks from COVID to this age group are minimal,” wrote a parent. “This vaccine remains experimental — was ‘authorized’ by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization. I will wait until the vaccine is fully approved before giving to my children.”

“Not only no, but HELL NO!” wrote another. “I didn’t want to get it myself, there is no way that I am putting an experimental treatment in my children.”

“I have been vaccinated but I don’t feel enough testing has been done regarding long term effects of the vaccine on the young,” wrote Carla, who has a 14-year-old daughter. “This is a new and different type of vaccine. I’m not willing to take a chance on my 14-year-old daughter’s future especially since she tested positive for Covid a couple months ago with almost no symptoms.”

“I was comfortable getting the vaccine for myself and husband,” wrote Samantha, the mother of an 8- and 12-year-old. “However, I do not feel that the vaccine has been thoroughly tested over a long enough period of time to determine what, if any, long term side effects this vaccine may have on developing children. My son is going through puberty and there’s no way I’m introducing this vaccine into his ever changing body. I’m glad my daughter is too young to be eligible yet. I am desperately hoping that the vaccine will not be required to go back to school in the fall.”

“My 12-year-old already had covid and had a 99 temp for a night and that was it,” wrote a parent. “My 9-year-old had no symptoms. When they are 18 they can decide if they want it or not, but for now they will not be getting it.”

“Natural immunity is safer in my opinion than a rushed vaccine,” wrote another. “I encouraged my grandparents to get the vaccine because they are at serious risk of dying from COVID but for my children, where there is very little risk of serious COVID problems, I think it’s better for them to get it naturally. I’m not keen on the new RNA vaccine technology especially.”

“Children are not at high risk so I will not be getting them vaccinated,” wrote a parent. “We have no concept of the long term risks from the vaccine and adverse interactions far outpace statistics from other vaccines that have been in existence for much longer timeframes.”

“Definitely not vaccinating them with some experimental vaccine against a virus that has no affect on them,” wrote another. “No no no.”

“It is still too soon,” wrote a parent. “My thought is wait until September before doing or thinking about it for my kids!”

Not sure yet whether my child will get the vaccine

“I’ll probably wait for future versions to combat other variants,” wrote Jay, the parent of a 12- and 15-year-old. “This version was rushed, and the current virus possesses an extremely low risk to kids. Sure they can still pass the virus, but that’s why the rest of us are vaccinated.”

“I am going to ask her PCP,” wrote another.

“Not enough safety data,” wrote a parent. “Use for kids should not have been emergency-authorized because it is not a severe threat for children.”

“It’s a privilege to even have a choice,” wrote Michelle. “I do want to consider the risks and benefits and not just rush to respond, but will almost certainly come down on the side of vaccination for our youngest, a 14-year-old. We have five older children, though half no longer live at home. I know one set of grandparents only want us to visit once the whole family has been vaccinated, which I understand from their point of view. There are risks and rewards on all sides to consider.”

“We will have our kids take one of the vaccines eventually, but we may wait until the J&J vaccine is approved for their age groups,” wrote Bill, the father of two kids ages 9 and 13. “mRNA vaccines are new and have never been approved for use before receiving emergency use for the pandemic. My wife and I have both received the Pfizer vaccine, but we’re in no rush to have the kids take the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. We don’t know how these mRNA vaccines impact developing children and I’m in no rush to find out. The J&J vaccine uses existing adenovirus technology and we have decades of data on long term effects. Plus J&J is currently one shot vs 2 so that makes it a little easier for the kids, especially if they have some side effects from the first dose and are concerned about a second. We want our kids protected and we want our lives to go back to the way they used to be, but we also want to be as educated and careful as possible before letting them take the vaccine. 6-12 months of data on the mRNA vaccines is not enough for us to be comfortable with having our kids take them.”

Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.

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