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Vaccines & Voting

Nicolas Montero, who is the focus of today’s post. Montero, 16 recently received a vaccine without his parent’s approval, is an example of why youth should have a vote. (Photo by Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

As COVID enters its third pandemic year, we take a look at how the multi-year event has impacted some youth. One of particular focus today comes from NPR News of a 16-year old who had to hide his plans to get vaccinated from his anti-vax parents.

Nicolas Montero, a 16-year old who resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was recently vaccinated against his parent’s wishes, and needed to hide his attempt to get the vaccine. Before Montero could get a COVID vaccine, he had to travel to Philadelphia to do so. Fortunately, Montero had the means to get vaccinated. Other youth in his situation don’t always have the accessibility, and depending on where they lived, their local legislature may or may not be anymore helpful than trying to get one through their parents.

As a volunteer researcher with several organizations fighting COVID-19, this story resonates well with me for the argument of lowering the voting age, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are several points worth mentioning in this article that support an idea of a lower voting age, especially to 16- Montero himself was 16; he was employed, and therefore paying taxes on the income he earned; and even a city regulation permitted him to get vaccinated.

Montero took his own initiative to get the vaccine, against his parent’s wishes, because opportunities existed and he wanted to do what he believed was the right thing, to not only protect himself and his immediate family but to also help protect those in his community as well as help end the pandemic.

Montero’s case shows how much of a double standard many youth still live through, even while going through a pandemic like the rest of the voting populace. At 16, Montero, like many of his peers nationwide, are: eligible to get vaccinated, can consent to getting vaccinated, are eligible to work, pay taxes and are just affected by the pandemic as everyone else. Yet despite being able to get vaccinated, traveling some distance from his home, he still doesn’t have a vote. In other words, you can consent to something that could have life-saving consequences for your own health, which can have immediate consequences for you and those around you, but you cannot vote on other issues that might affect you for longer periods of time, like climate change, gun control and where your taxes are going to. This is not right.

I urge all supporters of lowering the voting age to support H J Res 23. While it might not enfranchise all youths, it can enfranchise a substantial number of our future democratically-participating peers to make their own decisions that affect their health and other issues.

Jеstеr Jеrsеy


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