Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lubbock family finds COVID vaccine for teen - but it wasn't easy


Millions of Texans have been able to get vaccinated for COVID-19 since distribution began late last year, but there are still questions waiting to be answered when it comes to minors looking for their shot. 



The FDA has approved both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for adults, but only the Pfizer-BioNTech formula has been approved for use in minors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored in extremely cold freezers, it has not been as easy to find in Texas as Moderna. 

Lubbock resident Annie Harrison was searching for the vaccine for her 16-year-old son Westley and finally found one that was within driving distance. However, she ran into another roadblock when the clinic informed her that they would not give the shot to minors because of “fertility concerns.” Reproductive experts say there is no evidence that the vaccine can lead to loss of fertility.


“It was just surprising to me that a provider would not follow FDA guidelines and put a vaccine in an arm that was eligible,” Annie said.


The Harrison family had been very cautious since the pandemic began last year. Westley was born with a complex congenital heart defect, and now only two of the four chambers in his heart function. Any extra stress on his heart can take a toll on his health. 


“I tried to be very careful when it comes to trying not to get it,” Westley said. “Staying halfway from people when I can, putting in all measures that I can, just to be safe.” 


Initially, Westley was skeptical about how quickly the vaccine was developed. But he talked about it to his mom and now sees it was fast because of how urgently it was needed. 


“[The vaccine] doesn’t cure the virus or anything, but it lowers your risk at getting it, and that’s all I needed,” said Westley. 


Annie was able to take Westley to Midland on the same day their appointment at the other clinic was denied. They had no issues getting the shot there. The experience has made her worry about how other high-risk people might be denied elsewhere. 


“There are vulnerable populations and people who don’t have resources with which to advocate for themselves or know how to,” said Annie. 

Studies are currently underway in the U.S. to see how the vaccine will affect the 12-17 age group.


“With this pandemic, the high risk people are adults, not children,” said Dr. Richard Lampe, infectious disease pediatrician for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. “Therefore, the vaccines then need to be tested in children, but the first studies needed to be in adults.” 


Lampe said it’s up to parents and the children if they are vaccinated, but he does recommend it and is confident the studies being done will show the vaccines are safe for that age group.

“As a pediatrician, we strongly believe that vaccines are safe and effective because children are generally the recipient of all those vaccines,” Lampe said. “If there were any serious problems, I think we would’ve heard about it by now.” 


Data from the APM Research Lab shows that only 11.3 percent of the population in Texas have received their first dose. In Lubbock County, 57,364 residents are fully vaccinated.  


Have a news tip? Email Jayme Lozano at Follow her reporting on Twitter @Jayme_Lozano.


If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support local nonprofit journalism. Thanks for donating today.


Related Content