Consequences of lying about age to get COVID vaccine?
August 6, 2021 1:14 AM   Subscribe

My daughter is 11, will be 12 this fall. We're contemplating lying about her age to get her vaccinated before school begins. Good idea or not?

For background, we live in Massachusetts but in a city that is behind the state's vaccination rate. Local school board is likely to enact a mask mandate for schools, but hybrid or remote education is not likely unless things get significantly worse. All other household members are already vaccinated. Dosing size vs weight is not a concern; daughter is routinely mistaken as 2-3 years older and towers over her classmates. She does experience occasional exercise-induced asthma. Vaccine shots are plentiful in our area, so we're not preventing someone else from getting theirs.

There are family plans for the fall prior to her birthday including a wedding, a vacation and a relative's milestone birthday party. These would be skipped or masked up if she remained unvaccinated and things don't start turning around; attending these isn't a primary driver for getting her vaccinated but does weigh into the decision as a 'nice to have'.
Downsides we're contemplating: Obviously, her medical / vaccination records will be wonky. Insurance could get grumpy if something happened to her and they could trace it back to 'unauthorized vaccine use.'

Certainly there's an ethical concern, but the upside of not catching COVID and/or dying outweighs the ethical in my view.

What else am I missing?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (55 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not going to tell you whether to go ahead or not, but I do think an important part of being pro-science is being aware of the statistical evidence of how risky a disease is to a given age group, before taking a decision to mitigate that risk — particularly when the mitigation comes with legal, ethical and medical downside risks. There is obviously lots of terrible anti-vax anti-scientific sentiment around, which I totally disapprove of, but there is also a section of society that is so worried about the risk of covid to adults they have lost sight of the science around vaccination and covid in children.

I would question how pro-science it really is to give a child a medicine which has not yet been tested and FDA-approved for their age group.

Some stats from this Lancet paper:
  • In the US, there have been 67 covid deaths of 5-14 year olds, out of 41 million children in that age range. So the risk of death is 0.00016%, or 1 in about 610,000. The vast majority of those 67 deaths will be children with much more severe health conditions than occasional exercise-induced asthma — so 1 in 610k will be a significant overestimate of the risk to your child.
  • Child death from any cause is thankfully a rare event. 4,990 5-14 year olds died of any cause. So 98.7% of the children who tragically died over the last year, died from something other than Covid.
  • Hospitalisation of children with Covid is also very rare.
Personally I would be much much more concerned every time a child travels by car (1000 deaths/year) or enters a swimming pool (600 deaths/year) — and would try to see the risks of Covid in that context when you make the right decision for you and your child.
posted by Klipspringer at 2:06 AM on August 6, 2021 [46 favorites]

My inclination with these things (as someone who was in an age group that had to wait an extra month for our first vax in the UK because supplies stalled and would have loved to be able to move up the queue) is that people who decide which age group to vaccinate when, make those decisions based on population-scale information that mitigates risk for everyone (age-based risk factors, vaccine supply, logistics of how many people they are able to vaccinate how quickly).

They are then reliant on the whole population to support those decisions. Every single person who thinks "I'm only one person, it won't matter if I ignore the rules" undermines that strategy to combat Covid.

Vaccine shots are plentiful in our area, so we're not preventing someone else from getting theirs.

Is the same kind of thinking that stops people taking action that can collectively cause large-scale change. Everybody's actions count. You feel like you're not preventing anyone else from getting a vaccine, but if large numbers of parents try the same thing? If that's replicated across the country? Across all the countries who have plentiful vaccines and are vaccinating children while other countries are struggling even to vaccinate their adult population? It feels like a good learning opportunity to model the idea that one person's actions might feel insignificant but when they're in support of a larger cause, they can really matter. And given Klipspringer's stats on risk, it's not that you'd be putting your child at huge risk to make a point.

If you need a reason more based on your own benefit, in addition to Klipspringer's point about lack of testing on kids, you kind of handwave away "her medical/vaccination records will be wonky" but a look at the number of threads on here from people asking what to do because their particular combination of vaccinations doesn't comply with regulations for travel etc., and think how much of a headache you could be providing yourselves with down the road.
posted by penguin pie at 3:19 AM on August 6, 2021 [14 favorites]

Check with your pediatrician.
posted by TrishaU at 3:24 AM on August 6, 2021 [11 favorites]

What happens in the future when your child needs to be vaccinated for school and you’ve falsified her vaccine records?
posted by another zebra at 3:34 AM on August 6, 2021 [27 favorites]

Your kid will be 12 in just a few months! I think you should wait. To add a little context to Klipspringer's stats, 10% of all deaths in the US last year were from COVID-19. Less than 2% of deaths in the 5-14 age groups were from COVID.

Take her for a vaccine shot on her 12th birthday, by all means. And yeah, sure, the vaccine would probably work fine on her now and cause no serious side effects - the vaccine doesn't know that she's not-quite-12 (although FWIW the dose that Pfizer is testing in 5-11 year olds is only 10Mcg compared to the 30Mcg dose that is currently standard). But the benefit to her of getting vaccinated ~3 months early is so small. Even the benefit to her of getting vaccinated at 12 (or 13 or 14) is very small.
posted by mskyle at 3:55 AM on August 6, 2021 [8 favorites]

I have a granddaughter who will be 12 in September. She's also very tall for her age (I just bought her some shoes in a US women's size 10!) and has occasional asthma. She also lives in a place where vaccines are readily available.

Her parents and I have discussed this and we all agree that it would be a bad example to set for her, period.

It could also complicate things as the CDC issues a card with her vaccine record.

I traveled extensively when I was a kid back in the 1950s and 1960s and always had to carry an international (World Health Organization?) yellow card that listed all of my vaccines that I had to present at every international border crossing. We may all, once again, need such a card.

Be patient.
posted by mareli at 4:11 AM on August 6, 2021 [19 favorites]

I might be tempted in your shoes. However, the problem i see is the official record of the vaccination, and second dose and any booster doses. And also what sort of ID or proof of identity and age will be required?
Here in Austria vaccination is available from age 12. I took my son, and we had to show his ID, and complete a form with his birthdate , social Security number etc and sign to confirm veracity. Then we received a certificate and the yellow WHO pass. In theory both require a Photo ID in Support. So here this simply would not work.
posted by 15L06 at 4:34 AM on August 6, 2021 [6 favorites]

Insurance will be more than cranky. A decision to vaccinate her outside of what's indicated by your state's health dept. or the CDC could follow her forever in dealing with any future insurance company - health, life, disability, etc.

I understand your desire to protect your daughter, but if there's one thing we know about the U.S. insurance industry, it's that it's endlessly creative in the ways it screws policyholders - I had an insurance company deny a dermatology treatment because it was due to sun damage I incurred as a child, which they deemed voluntary. That was a minor hassle and the doctor got it reversed but it would be a nightmare with something more serious. We have no idea how insurance companies are going to capitalize on coronavirus and the vaccines and all the disinformation around it all, but we can be sure they will. Don't do this to your daughter.

If you have concerns about her safety at school until she's vaccinated, get a waiver for her to attend remotely for a few months. And she can wear a mask to the parties.
posted by headnsouth at 5:13 AM on August 6, 2021 [16 favorites]

I have a 10 year old who's the sole unvaccinated member of our family (the entire. family., he's the youngest of his generation) and feel your pain.

But our family has chosen the lane of following science-based guidelines and we're sticking to that (I realize we're a year apart here, plus in Canada you have to present your health card so lying is not an option.)

I actually do want to see the trials for kids before getting one for my son, especially being sure there's no enhanced immune response (ADE) showing up in the trials. The immune system really does change as we age.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:38 AM on August 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'd personally stock up on some KN95s and wait a few more months.
posted by vitout at 5:53 AM on August 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

I clearly disagree with most people here and elsewhere. But, personally, I'd argue that the difference between an 11.6 year old child and a 12.1 year old child is really unlikely to be significant, or even measurable.

Teaching a kid to distrust authority when they make arbitrary and questionable decisions - if you have a good reason to do so - isn't always a bad thing. Understanding science and trusting scientists are both usually good, but they are very different things. As a non-expert, the 12 year old cutoff sure looks like the latter, and I'd be very surprised if anyone who recommended it could honestly tell you that six months makes a significant difference.

If it were my relative, I'd not hesitate. I'd probably use a fake name and claim she forgot her ID. A second vaccination won't hurt, except for removing two shots from the available pool for other people. No idea about the legal consequences if you get caught. (I've also gone to jail for participating in symbolic protests, which may not be the example you want to set.)
posted by eotvos at 6:35 AM on August 6, 2021 [15 favorites]

I just drove the 11 and 11/12ths grandkid I mentioned above and her younger sister to day camp. Had a cup of coffee with their mom as they finished their breakfast. I told them about this post. My daughter-in-law, who is a nurse practitioner, told us she had a couple of extra doses of vaccine left over at work a few weeks ago and seriously contemplated giving one to the kid. She did not. She listed all the reasons people above have given for not jabbing the kid, and also the risk she would have run of losing her license. We all conjectured that schools will eventually ask for proof of Covid vaccine, just as they do for other immunizations.
posted by mareli at 6:55 AM on August 6, 2021 [6 favorites]

I’m in the exact same situation and have also considered doing this.

In the end, I probably won’t, simply due to the headache of finding a place where we can ‘sneak in’ plus not having great records of his vax status moving forward.

I think the latter is the most compelling reason not to do it. I find other arguments as to why this is wrong pretty underwhelming. The choice isn’t whether to vax or not vax, as you’ll be vaxxing in just a couple of months regardless. And at this point, there are no supply issues. The clinical trials using 12 as the cut-off is arbitrary, there is no physiological difference between an 11.8 year old and a 12.0 year old.

So the best reason not to do it is the most mundane one: it will be a nuisance for you moving forward.

I heard yesterday that the FDA is trying to speed up the 5-11 year old EUA. That likely means October or maybe November timeframe rather than the mid-winter they were most recently saying. Probably won’t impact our family as ours will turn 12 right around that time but great for other families with children who are not on the cusp of 12 years old.
posted by scantee at 7:00 AM on August 6, 2021 [12 favorites]

We're in the exact same boat and have thought about this a lot too. Klipspringer's points are the most convincing to me regarding why to wait. The stuff about "this will follow the kid around forever as a problem" is not convincing to me at all. AFAIK, private health insurance isn't involved in getting the vaccine - we've gotten it for free at different government-run or Walgreens-run programs without presenting insurance. And the eligible age for the vax is going to drop to 5 or whatever in a few months - so somebody in the future would need to go back and think about whether 11 year olds were eligible to get the vaccine in this particular month in 2021 versus another month; I'm not seeing why anybody would ever do that. And also 11 year olds (and younger) are currently getting the vaccine in clinical trials; these people aren't going to have a big insurance problem forever.

Our 14 year old was vaccinated at a city-run site and the only "proof of age" that was required was him orally saying his birthday. Teaching our other kid to lie about something like that seems like a bad idea - which is why we haven't done it - but it seems trivially easy to do this and not have a problem with it in the future.
posted by Mid at 7:30 AM on August 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

From a records standpoint, this would be difficult to navigate going forward. You would literally be lying on her medical records. What happens when she turns 12? Do you have it put in her records that she was vaccinated prior to her birthday? Somehow lie about the date the shot was given? Leave it off her records to avoid getting caught, and cause her all kinds of hassle in the future? Have her get a second dose, something that isn’t authorized by the FDA as far as I know and would honestly be a waste of the supply? It’s just too messy from a logistical standpoint.

HOWEVER, I have no doubt that the vaccine would be entirely harmless and the difference in age is arbitrary. I would absolutely talk to her pediatrician and see if there is any way she could get a shot sooner. Perhaps she can participate in some kind of trial? I’m not sure if they’re doing trials on her age group, so excuse my ignorance if they’re not. Point is there may be a way to try and get the shot sooner, especially if you have an understanding pediatrician. If there’s not the good news is if she is surrounded by vaccinated adults the risk to her is relatively low, though I know that’s hairier now with Delta, and the risk to her age group in general is low from a statistical standpoint. So she’ll probably be ok even if she has to wait. Good luck.
posted by Amy93 at 7:32 AM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

When you are a parent there is often a sense of needing to make it to the next milestone. Waiting for the baby to start solids, to sleep through the night, to pee in the po, to be dry at night, to stop have toileting accidents, to start school, to read, to understand cause and effect, to be able to amuse themself, to be allowed to stay home alone... If only they can reach the next milestone that will take the pressure off. And it is true, it will take the pressure off. But there will always be a new milestone and the pressure tends to come back. Often that relief only lasts a few days before the logistics of having a family means there is some other concern.

It's not actually a big thing if your kid is late staying dry at night, or if they miss the vacation and the milestone birthday. It takes the pressure off much more if you can get comfortable with waiting for however long it takes and being prepared for it to take months and months longer than you expect.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:33 AM on August 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'm in NJ and when I brought my kids, I had to show picture ID for both of them, along with another piece of identification that matched their name. In their case, it was recently expired passports and my driver's license.

My eldest just turned 18 and goes by a preferred name rather than their given legal name. They inadvertently signed up for the vaccination under the preferred name and that caused a *slew* of problems because of how the State reports the Covid vaccinations (somehow that kid's shots showed up automatically in the pediatrician's computer, but the other kid that got the Pfizer shot at Walmart didn't). I had to present their birth certificate, Social Security card, an old student ID with their legal, given name. Their name and appointment had to be all backed out of the computer system and be re-entered because I guess NJ-issued shots are tracked differently depending on who/where they're given. On top of all of that, we still had to get authorization from the Nurse Supervisor of the site so that we could go forward with the vaccine because the passport was expired and the names didn't match. It all took the better part of 40 minutes just to get it all straightened out. FWIW, this was at one of those mega-vaccine locations.

With the second kid, it was much easier and took less than a couple of minutes - it was a Walmart-sponsored pop-up at a local University (that kid is 16yo and couldn't get the Moderna shot). I should also mention that all four times we went (for each shot), they took photocopies of the kids' passports at both locations. Funny thing, the kid at the State site has a Covid card with their name scribbled on it and the vaccine lot numbers and date barely legible in pen. The Walmart ones were printed out on individual stickers and put right on the card.

So, aside from the health issues of waiting it out, I wouldn't screw with the vaccine status of your daughter. I think sooner rather than later, people are going to have their vaccine history accessible on apps like Apple Health.
posted by dancinglamb at 7:40 AM on August 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have anecdotally heard of doctors giving it off label to 11 year olds, even though off-label uses aren't allowed under the EUA, so you could attempt to go that route, finding whatever doctor in your state will do it. Off-label uses will be allowed under the full authorization, so if Pfizer gets full approval before there is an EUA for 5-11 year olds, your odds will increase.
posted by mcgsa at 7:42 AM on August 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oh, one other thing. We do have health insurance, but we didn't have to provide any proof of that. They asked if we had it and I said yes - nothing more.
posted by dancinglamb at 7:44 AM on August 6, 2021

On the records point - all the record will say is that the person got vaccinated on X date. To figure out the problem, someone would then need to check that date against the kid's birthday and against the previously-current rules about eligibility, which are changing. In a few months (Sept. or Oct. or whatever), for example, it will be authorized for 11-year-olds. And then there are also different outlier cases that could explain the discrepancy, even if noticed - such as clinical trials, or off-label use by a doctor, or the kid was in another country or something. If a school or government or insurer or whoever is looking over a long list of vaccinations - for TB, smallpox, COVD, etc. -- it seems to me vanishingly unlikely that a discrepancy like this one would register in any way that mattered.
posted by Mid at 7:49 AM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

all the record will say is that the person got vaccinated on X date.

I don't know what shows in the official record, but my vaccine card has my birthday on it right under my name. So at a minimum you'd likely have that (small and probably easy to handwave away as a clerical error) discrepancy between the actual birthday and what is shown on the card following you around for as long as the card itself remained relevant.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:54 AM on August 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

o at a minimum you'd likely have that (small and probably easy to handwave away as a clerical error) discrepancy

Thinking on this just a bit more -- because currently you would need to show the card in order to cross most international borders, having that birthdate discrepancy might actually be a big deal in those situations. It would suck to have the youngest member of the family denied entrance at the start of a vacation, say.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:56 AM on August 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

If we're talking about a matter of weeks and months, I would do it.

Hell, when the vaccine is approved for 5 year olds, my 4 year old will probably be a few months from 5. I would totally lie about his age to get it. I've joked that if I thought it would work I would put him on stilts in a trench coat and get him vaccinated now, but I know the dosage for 5 year olds (real or pretend) will be different than it is for the12+ crowd, so besides ineffective, that wouldn't be safe. But once it's a 4.75 year old getting a vaccine safe for 5 year olds? I'd be down for that.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:25 AM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

One thing I haven't seen mentioned - at the age of 11/12, lying over something like this would have really stressed me out. Like I probably would have spent the next few years afraid that someone was going to come to my door and my parents and I would be in some sort of unspecified trouble, and I would not have told my parents I was worried. My father ignored a "do not feed the animals" sign once to give a horse a cough drop, and it FREAKED ME OUT. I was a super anxious kid, and your daughter may not be, but this seems worth considering, especially as this would have to be a continuing lie and not a one and done.

(My vote in general would be no for all of the excellent reasons mentioned above.)
posted by FencingGal at 8:32 AM on August 6, 2021 [28 favorites]

But our family has chosen the lane of following science-based guidelines and we're sticking to that (I realize we're a year apart here, plus in Canada you have to present your health card so lying is not an option.)

pssts...there are clinics for people with no heatlh cards or no ID. That's where I dream of taking my kid in stilts and a trenchcoat. We obviously don't want people running around being vectors just because they don't qualify for medicare.

But yeah, I hadn't thought about all the insurance-related hassles that people would face in the US that others are bringing up. But others don't seem to be thinking about what drives my trenchcoat dreams: I know my 4 year old would not likely get very sick if he got covid. But my mom might well, even though she is vaccinated. And my son is super-attached to his grandparents and literally begs to visit them every day. We visit. But we'll probably have to stop when the fourth wave hits and he is not vaccinated. This is going to be super hard on him. If I could vaccinate him and he could visit with his grandparents once or twice a week even through the fourth wave, the difference it would make for his quality-of-life/emotional well-being would be incalculable. The case for vaccinating kids can't be made by looking just at the risk to kids, it has to include the risk to people the kids come into contact with. Or want to.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:33 AM on August 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

My kid got vaccinated at a big fair through one health system, and then a few months later at the pediatrician (different health system) we verbally told them the date it was done, so from a records-keeping standpoint, it was not a big deal. (If booster shots come into play later, you'd probably want the dates to be reasonably accurate.) We did put it through with insurance - in some places, if you go through without insurance with a child, they will flag you and try to sign you up for the low-income insurance for children.

But, the main point is that you will all need to mask at the weddings and vacation and milestone party and school, regardless.
posted by xo at 8:37 AM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

While this is a specific situation with your child being a specific age, what would be the cutoff for lying about the age? 11.5? 11.25? 11? You are making several decisions here, not just jab or no jab.
posted by AugustWest at 8:44 AM on August 6, 2021

There's at least one 4,000+ participant clinical trial in progress. So far there has not been publicity about adverse effects happening.
I would get my kid a false id to get them the shot.
posted by Sophont at 8:49 AM on August 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I can’t speak from a parents’ perspective. As someone whose parent asked them to lie about a decision their parent made when they were around your child’s same age, though, I just want to +1 FencingGal’s point about the burden on a child of their parent asking them to lie for them.

My personal circumstances were a little more complicated, and my parents’ decision was a little more clearly endangering me. But the stress of keeping the secret really damaged my relationship with my parent, especially because of how scared I was of the (actually unlikely, but very scary in my child mind) consequences of accidentally revealing it, and I’m still unraveling the impact it’s had on my relationships in general decades later.
posted by moonbeam at 9:39 AM on August 6, 2021 [10 favorites]

I would try to find an officially sanctioned way to get it -- special order of the pediatrician, being in a trial, that sort of thing.

If you can't, I know it's frustrating, and like you, I'd come this close to doing what you're considering but then get hung up on the paperwork. If it's any "consolation" (ha ha *sob*), I think breakthrough infections are common enough that a wedding and big family get-together seem like bad ideas anyway. I'd be using almost the same precautions with or without vaccinations myself.
posted by slidell at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2021

I think only dancinglamb has mentioned state reporting so far, but that would be the administrative hassle that would concern me the most. Each state has an immunization registry, which collects info about all vaccinations given in the state and allows health care providers to access it. I don’t know what would happen if you lied about your child’s birth year—maybe they would just create a new entry for a new child with that birthdate that would have no other immunizations?—but if it were me I would definitely want to find out first. I’d also want to know how your or your child could go about verifying their immunization status going forward, if the primary proof of that vaccination is a record that technically is not theirs since verifying information (birthday) won’t match. It’s possible you could correct this later as a “clerical error,” but it would probably involve many calls and emails during which you’d have to be pretty staunch in the lie that it was a mistake, and hope no one does the math or cares if they do.

I’m not saying that with life and death stakes any of this would not be worth it! Only that vaccine verification is a bit more complicated and bureaucratic than some of these other answers make it seem. It’s not just the little handwritten card.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 10:20 AM on August 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

We considered this and the factor that decided against it was the kid’s discomfort with lying. If I felt there were a significant risk to kids from covid, I would have pushed harder.

That said, if it’s still not approved by November or so, we’re going to reconsider.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:28 AM on August 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

I think it's reasonable to ask* your daughter's doctor if she would be willing to give your daughter the vaccine early because of concerns about the delta variant and your daughter having asthma.

*perhaps it would be better to ask after the Pfizer vaccine received full authorization.

However, I don't think it's reasonable to put your daughter in a position where she has to lie or carry around a big secret.
posted by oceano at 10:30 AM on August 6, 2021 [7 favorites]

In my state, places are advertising that you don't even have to have proof of identity, residence, etc, to get vaccinated. I believe, but don't know for sure, that it's nationwide. I know of adults going that route to get a 3rd shot, or back up the Johnson & Johnson one. They've made the decision for themselves that it's better odds to get an extra boost than to wait on the government to change its mind a dozen times.

If I had one that age, I'd probably be considering going just that route. Don't know what I'd decide, but I'd consider it. Then she could go ahead and get the vaccine as scheduled. I've been told more than once in my life about various vaccines that an extra shot isn't a big deal; it's the lack of any that's the problem. I'm skeptical it will end up being any different for this one. (We've had some uncertainty about both some of my own, and one date of my children's shots.)

There's been quite a bit of vaccine testing in children already, it's just not quite as far along. Look at the research, the actual research numbers. I suspect by the time your child is 12, we're going to be amidst a very heavy push to get children vaccinated very, very quickly, if not due to the Delta variant, then due to the next one.

IMO, if you as parents decide you're willing to enable it in some way, she's old enough that she needs to make the final decision. It's her body.
posted by stormyteal at 10:37 AM on August 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

My kid turned 16 this past year, and he and his friends were very aware of who was 15 and who was 16 and who was or wasn’t eligible. If your daughter gets this shot, you’re not just lying. You are also asking her to lie, to medical authorities, to her doctors, to her teachers, to her friends You are creating a tangle of lies that she is obligated to participate in. If she tells an 11 year old friend she’s vaccinated, that kid is going to talk to their parents. All your relatives will know you both lied. This is an extraordinary burden to place upon a young child. Please do not make your child lie or participate in some sort of insurance fraud.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:44 AM on August 6, 2021 [16 favorites]

If your daughter gets this shot, you’re not just lying. You are also asking her to lie, to medical authorities, to her doctors, to her teachers, to her friends You are creating a tangle of lies that she is obligated to participate in.

I agree with this. It's particularly not fair to the provider/institution administering the vaccine to trick them into providing unsanctioned medical care to a child.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:49 AM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

There are family plans for the fall prior to her birthday including a wedding, a vacation and a relative's milestone birthday party. These would be skipped or masked up if she remained unvaccinated and things don't start turning around; attending these isn't a primary driver for getting her vaccinated but does weigh into the decision as a 'nice to have'. (emphasis added)

Weddings, vacations, and milestone birthday parties are just that, nice-to-haves. Some people don't even have them! I know you said that it's not a primary driver for getting your daughter vaccinated early, but I think there's something to be said for demonstrating that fun and celebration isn't something to move mountains for. Even if she (or all of you) has to skip these events rather than attend masked, life will go on. Would missing out be a hit to her quality of life? Sure, but everyone involved can learn to cope with a less-than-optimal social calendar.
posted by blerghamot at 10:50 AM on August 6, 2021 [5 favorites]

If your daughter gets this shot, you’re not just lying. You are also asking her to lie, to medical authorities, to her doctors, to her teachers, to her friends You are creating a tangle of lies that she is obligated to participate in.

Why would she have to lie to all of these people? She needs to lie once, upon getting the shot. She can be completely honest with everyone else about the fact that she got it early.

People in my social circle have gotten the shot early for their kids, and they’re completely open about it.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

Vaccine shots are plentiful in our area, so we're not preventing someone else from getting theirs.

Vaccine availability is a nice indicator that you're not robbing your neighbour of a chance to get a vaccine, but vaccine doses are scarce on a world-wide level. If there's more vaccine takeup in an area, then that area is going to order move vaccines. Since you're in the US, they'll probably get them, as opposed to people living in other parts of the world where their country's supply lines aren't nearly as good. It's obviously not as straightforward as you take the vaccine dose for your kid so some worker in Guinea-Bissau doesn't get the dose, but until vaccines aren't scarce on a global level, you are kinda preventing someone else from getting theirs. It's just a someone else further away in time and place.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:48 AM on August 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

My son would be very very bothered if he knew the rules said one thing and we arranged for the rules to be bent for him or lied on his behalf. The fact that getting the vaccine would be in his best interests (though, as others have said, not necessarily everyone's interests) would not alter the fact that the situation would cause him distress. So I wouldn't do this.
posted by altolinguistic at 1:00 PM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

It probably won't hurt your kid, but your kid probably isn't at much risk anyway because most people they'd be in contact with will be vaccinated.

More importantly: look around at the effect that selfishness, dishonesty and scientific illiteracy are having on our society and ask yourself which team you want to play for. At any given moment social responsibility is providing more protection to your kid than a vaccine will.
posted by klanawa at 1:21 PM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

My school of public had a phrase, “global is local and local is global.” You need to look at the local COVID trends and also contexts world wide. Because of high adult vaccine uptake in Mass. kids there are far less likely to get COVID than say, Louisiana. God forbid, they’d also be likely to get a hospital bed in a pediatric ward unlike the current situation in many places.

You sound like you have a healthy amount of care and concern for your kid. To continue help keep your kid safe, focus on the adults (or rather, over 12’s) around you. Your kid probably has a fair amount of friends around the same age. Are they all getting vaccinated? Their parents? What about the people attending the milestone birthday or wedding? This may be a far more realistic way to affect change and keep your kid safe for the meantime.

Once full approval is given to Pfizer is likely that the people can administer it off label (meaning outside the recommended ages).

Ultimately I think in this instance there’s not really enough unmitigationable risk to justify it given that you have the option to wait, get it shortly, and in the meantime just have kiddo mask up or miss a few family events.

This is a really hard time for families and I feel for you.
posted by raccoon409 at 1:32 PM on August 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Personally I don't at all blame you for thinking this through. Personally if I had to go break into some facility Mission-Impossible style to get something my family needed I'd do it without hesitation. Kids do get this disease and the disease is no joke. As a middle ground what you can definitely do today is get on your pediatrician's radar that you want her to get this shot as soon as humanly possible - like please call me ASAP if you have extra doses or the day it becomes available.
posted by bleep at 1:33 PM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

In Canada you only need to turn 12 in 2021 to get vaccinated. I’m surprised to hear its not the same in the US. I know of a couple coworkers 11 year olds who have had their shot already because they are turning 12 in the fall as well.

It was the same earlier in out vaccine rollout - age criteria was based on your age you would be turning in 2021. Or, differently put, it was based on your birth year.
posted by cgg at 1:56 PM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

It's pretty surprising to me that people are pointing to the lying as the main reason to not do this, since IMO knowing how and when to lie to authorities (including medical professionals) is an important life skill, and this seems like potentially a good opportunity to talk to your kid about that, and to explain why this is a situation where it's OK to lie.

Obviously if your kid is uncomfortable with lying in this situation, you shouldn't make her, but if you explain it to her and she seems comfortable with it, I think it could be a good lesson.
posted by wesleyac at 1:59 PM on August 6, 2021 [12 favorites]

Actually.. I am mistaken. On googling its birth year in BC, but other provinces may do differently. If this whole thing isn’t complicated enough…
posted by cgg at 2:00 PM on August 6, 2021

In Canada you only need to turn 12 in 2021 to get vaccinated. I’m surprised to hear its not the same in the US.
It's the same in the US. The poster's child is 11, turning 12 this fall. The question is about getting the vaccine now by saying the child is 12 instead of waiting til fall.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:17 PM on August 6, 2021

The vaccination might not be covered by insurance or by the government. As an adult you either have to provide your insurance info (which the pharmacy would check in their system and it would be rejected) or your social security number to get it covered by the government if you don't have insurance. So that could get iffy. Also, do you need to show proof of ID or a copy of the birth certificate or anything in order for her to get the vaccine?
posted by at 3:00 PM on August 6, 2021

NPR just today put out an ethics Q&A column about this exact question -- I think there are a lot of people grappling with this right now.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:15 PM on August 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

As someone who has one child that isn't yet eligible for the vaccine (although not as close as yours), I really empathize with your feelings here. At the risk of being a broken record, best evidence suggests that children who test positive for Covid, even those with mild infections, have approximately a 1 in 8 chance of having "long Covid" symptoms. It's not just about hospitalization or death. It's also not just about the kid; many people have loved ones and members of their communities who are un/underprotected from vaccines and are still at high risk. I sure as fuck do not want my kid to live with the burden of passing Covid on to someone who then has a bad outcome.

That being said, I wouldn't do this. I agree with those above who pointed out that this is a big lie to have your child participate in. I also feel pretty strongly that teaching your kid to lie for their own personal benefit- to jump the queue and get something for themselves that others don't have- is just morally not a great thing to do. One of the things that made me feel most depressed throughout the pandemic was people's selfishness... putting their own wants in front of everyone else in their community. I'm talking about anti-maskers, people who lied about their social activities/risk to others, and those who just plain gave no fucks and did whatever they felt like the whole time with no thought to anyone around them. Getting your kid the vaccine isn't the same, because you wouldn't be directly endangering others... but it does kind of push that same button for me in terms of ignoring the public health guidelines that are meant to be for everyone to follow, for your own gain. I don't mean for that to sound harsh though, I totally understand where you're coming from. That's just my reasoning for why I wouldn't do it.
posted by DTMFA at 5:42 PM on August 6, 2021 [6 favorites]

All I can say is my son had Crohn’s, take humira (a biological immune suppressant) and is about 6 weeks from turning 12. Hell yeah I think about lying and getting his vaccine. His 15 year old sister with a kearner’s oermit didn’t have to show proof of ID and our state is under utilizing their available vaccines. He and I have talked at length about the ethical dilemma, lying, etc. I’d still rather model lying than have a seriously six kid. His dad also is on humira with Crohn’s-fully vaxed but 50% of the child and adult cases I’ve dealt with at work in the last ten days are full vaxed....
posted by purenitrous at 9:17 PM on August 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

Mod note: A few deleted. Please remember the purpose of Ask Metafilter is to provide help and advice to the OP, not to argue with other answerers. Your suggestion or idea might be at odds with someone else, and that's fine: just give your own advice and explanation, and let OP sort it out.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:41 PM on August 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

I think this would be technically possible under several different scenarios, but you might have to avoid documentation. This would be called fraud. You'd also need cooperation from the vaccinating establishment because every time a shot is given it's documented by the vaccinator, at least in my state, which requires signing up using an app or computer and entering name, date of birth and other demographic data. There's a way to proceed through the app not using insurance but the other information is loaded into a state database in case you lost your CDC card. Somebody somewhere would probably notice eventual multiple shots, even if you successfully get past the birthday issue. There are probably algorithms to catch just such issues, but I have no personal knowledge of this. You'd need a cooperating vaccinator to keep the shot out of the system.

Your child would then need to get vaccinated again when eligible if you want her to have a CDC card.

That's having a lot of faith that the shots would go well - no allergic reaction, for example, that would take her to a hospital. The vaccinator would have to trust you and your daughter that you would never, ever talk about the earlier vaccine. So not only logistical problems but potential serious malpractice by the vaccinator. Unless you figured out a way to hold them harmless with a private scheme where they don't know what's going on, I'd not want to do that.

But I do get your fear and frustration, having 2 grandkids 6 and above and one 5, who will need to wait I don't know how long for vaccination. And it does seem arbitrary that a 12th birthday magically opens the vaccination door, but the studies have to be organized within age groups and the borderline happens to be 12. I know several families that had vaccination scheduled proudly on their child's birthday, with the child's friends invited to witness.
posted by citygirl at 8:49 AM on August 7, 2021

I've been pondering this q and my response to it since yesterday, and I'm worried I came off overly moralizing or disapproving. So I just wanted to say a couple additional things:

1) My response stemmed from my deep sadness at how many people, including some who I love, behaved during the pandemic. I think that people are cognitively biased towards wanting to see themselves as exceptions, whereas I think we all would be better off if people saw themselves as just one member of a larger community, who are all bound by some social and structural rules. I don't believe for a second that you getting your kid vaxxed just before the age of 12 would be medically any different from waiting the extra few months. But what about all other almost 12s, who also deserve the vaccine? Then what about all the almost 11s, who also desperately want the vaccine and will then be the people just under the threshold if the almost 12s are getting it? Although the cutoff is relatively arbitrary & based on the vaccine trial categories, our current rules and supply are structured around that cutoff. The best way to ensure equity is to make the vaccine as accessible as possible to everyone currently eligible, and then work to vaccinate all of our under 12s when the vaccine evidence for that age group is in. On an individual level, it SUCKS to have family who are not yet eligible. But on a societal one, proudly getting your kiddo vaxxed when the vaccines are approved and all their peers are also granted access will feel a lot better than jumping the queue and it won't require viewing yourself/kid as an exception to the rules that other folks are following.

2) I am very, very sure that if my kiddo was closer to the cutoff, I would have seriously considered getting them vaxxed "under the table" as well. We all want to keep our kids and others in our circles safe. I am trying to share my own (chaotic, emotional, probably poorly worded) thoughts around how the thought of doing it makes me feel, and why I wouldn't ultimately do it.

Thanks for bearing with my further thoughts! Best of luck to your fam whichever way you go.
posted by DTMFA at 12:48 PM on August 7, 2021

A second vaccination won't hurt, except for removing two shots from the available pool for other people.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the scenario but... second vaccination as in a total of four doses in whatever time period? Given the increase in side effects many people see with the second dose (i.e. after the immune system is geared up from prior exposure) this actually does not seem like a responsible experiment to do on your kid, before the appropriate dose and timing for boosters is sorted out.

If you can get it done a little early and get it officially recognized in whatever way, no, I don't think that's a big deal. But don't do it twice.
posted by atoxyl at 9:47 PM on August 7, 2021

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