Parents consider lying to public health officials to secure vaccine for under 12 children

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some parents, desperate to protect their under 12 children from contracting COVID-19, are considering lying to public health authorities in order to secure a vaccine for them.

Currently, only adolescents 12 and over are permitted to receive their COVID-19 shots.

There aren’t significant roadblocks in the way of doing so. According to Austin Public Health, officials ask the parent/guardian to confirm their child’s date of birth, however, they do not verify it.

Both APH and pediatricians are warning against that level of deceit, saying that Pfizer vaccine trials are still underway for the younger population. Scientists are monitoring for rare side effects and are toying with smaller doses for younger children.

Last month, Pfizer moved to the next phase of its testing and began giving its subjects aged five through 11 years old a 10 microgram dose. Children aged four to six months are receiving a three microgram dose. For comparison, the dosage for people 12 and older is 30 micrograms.

“While the data has been submitted by the FDA, it hasn’t been reviewed and approved, even for emergency use authorization,” said Dr. Valerie Smith, a pediatrician and member of the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force. “[Lying] will make it even harder for scientists who are tying to do their very due diligence to make sure these vaccines are safe and given to populations that are safe.”

Austin Public Health said lying about your kid’s age can also create problems with the state’s vaccination record. APH and other vaccine providers must submit their reports to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Those immunization records are also often used in public schools.

Despite all this, parents are eyeing the highly contagious delta variant and a rapidly approaching first day of school.

“When I first held her in my arms, I made a promise that I would always take care of her. And this is one of those situations where I may have to so something extraordinary in order to do that,” Jason Morton said of his nine-year-old. “I’m getting desperate. It’s one of those things where I weigh her safety versus the morality of making this decision. And to be honest, the morality of the situation doesn’t weigh as much as protecting my daughter.”

Morton said while he is still seriously considering bending the rules to secure his daughter’s vaccine, he has weighed the possible consequences, as well.

“If I’m going outside the realm of what has been studied and done, I’m taking a chance,” Morton said.

Dr. Smith said it would be better to wait it out until the vaccine is approved for emergency use authorization, which she expects to happen sometime in the fall or winter. Until then, she encourages mask-wearing, maintaining social distances, washing hands frequently, staying home when ill and encouraging others to do the same.

As of Thursday, Austin Public Health officials have delivered nearly 10,000 vaccines to people aged 12 to 19. To their knowledge, no vaccines have been delivered to anyone under the age of 12.

Reach KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello by email at alexc@kxan.com or by phone at 512-703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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