VaxTeen: Teenagers are learning how to circumvent their parents’ opposition to COVID vaccines

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Kelly Danielpour, VaxTeen creator. Credit: Jessica Pons/New York Times
Kelly Danielpour, VaxTeen creator. Credit: Jessica Pons/New York Times

Among minors, 38% of 16- to 17-year-olds and 25% of 12- to 15-year-olds were fully vaccinated as of July 14, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics analysis of CDC data.

That’s what worries [18-year-old Kelly Danielpour, who started] VaxTeen before the pandemic, after coming across a Reddit post from a teenager who wanted to get their routine adolescent immunizations but whose parents opposed vaccines. 

“I was just in awe, and I also realized how many barriers were in place,” she says. “Whenever we talk about sort of the anti-vaccine movement, we always just talk about parents. We don’t really think about kids having their own opinions on this, or being part of this conversation or having the potential to be the decision makers. She wanted VaxTeen to be a resource for those teens, and her work became newly urgent amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the pervasiveness of vaccine hesitancy.

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She has focused her efforts both on access—helping teens find a vaccine clinic along their bus route that’s open on weekends, for example—and awareness, sharing fact-based vaccination information for them to take back to skeptical parents. “In many cases, convincing a parent is a teen’s only option,” she says. 

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