Commentary: Getting rejected of my right to a COVID-19 vaccine

April 2, 2021 /

In mid-February, I was eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. I work part-time at a grocery store, so I am deemed as an essential worker who works with food and agriculture. I had always known that once I was eligible for the vaccine, I was going to book an appointment and receive a vaccine.

I was unaware that I was able to receive the vaccine until a coworker notified me that we fall under the eligible vaccine individuals. I was still unsure of my eligibility for the vaccine due to my age. I am seventeen years old, but on the “MyTurn” California website, it stated that I was eligible as long as I had the consent of my legal parents or guardians, and I was at least sixteen years of age; which I did and I was. I then booked an appointment at the Wasco Veterans Hall to receive my vaccine. 

Once the day of my appointment arrived, my father accompanied me to my appointment since I was a minor. I arrived at the entrance, notified the healthcare workers that I was there for my appointment and they welcomed me into the building. Before I stepped foot inside, I notified the four nurses that I was a minor but my father was present just to save us time in case they later came to this realization. They then told me that they were unable to provide me a vaccine due to my age. I told them that if they had the Phizer vaccine they should be able to vaccinate me since they were a county site but they still rejected me. 

Once I was home, I was determined to find a site that would provide vaccination to minors. I went to the Kern County Public Health website and began to call every institution that was on the list of vaccination sites within Kern County. I called about seven different locations asking them if they provided vaccinations for minors and I received a firm “no” from each one.

To save me some time and disappointment, I called Kern County Public Health to see if they knew of any site that would not deny me and could possibly assist me with this issue. One woman who sounded quite older assisted me at first. I explained my situation and she gave me a number to call and make an appointment which ultimately leads me to another dead end. She gave me the number of a Bakersfield drive-through vaccine distribution but they were supplying the Moderna vaccine. The CDC has only approved the Pfizer vaccine on minors, therefore I was unable to do anything with that information. 

I then called KCPH once again in hopes that another individual could assist me.  A woman who sounded as if she was in her twenties or thirties answered and was truly of great help. I explained my situation to her and not only did she notify me that the Kern County Fairgrounds will 100% accept me and give me a vaccine, but she communicated this information with her supervisor.

She and her supervisor were both concerned and upset because I should not have been turned away from all the sites I contacted as I did. I was completely eligible for a vaccine yet every site was rejecting my right to a vaccine. The private institutions were a bit more understandable since they can create their own policies, but the county sites such as the Veteran’s Hall should not have turned me away. About a day or two later she contacted me and made sure I set my appointment at the fairgrounds, which I did, and communicated with me that Kern County Public Health was going to investigate these sites to make sure they are being lawful and just.

She has not contacted me again, but recently, a friend of mine who is seventeen years of age received her COVID-19 vaccine and at the Wasco Veteran’s Hall location, so KCPH evidently put these sites in check.

I was happy to see that other individuals will not come across the same difficulties as I did when it should not have been that difficult in the first place.

Luckily, beginning on April 15 in the state of California, every single individual who is sixteen years of age and above will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. More lives will be saved due to immunization against COVID-19. Life will seemingly begin to progressively return to normal. The spread of COVID-19 will thankfully begin to decrease due to easier access to a vaccine. I personally encourage everyone to receive the vaccine once eligible to put an end to the millions of lives lost and to put an end to this troubling pandemic.