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Some Michigan parents reportedly lying about their child's age to get them COVID vaccine

Posted at 1:56 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 11:42:06-04

(WXYZ) — Despite the vaccine only being available for children 12 and older, dozens of children under 12 have reportedly received it after their parents took them to a clinic and lied about their age.


The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said they are aware of this happening occasionally, saying it would be considered a medical error. One doctor warns this error could have serious consequences.

"I don't know if anxious is the right word but we’re beyond ready,” said Parent Julie Lambert in Berkley.

Lambert is ready for her 8-year-old and 11-year-old to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She was hoping to have them vaccinated before school starts this month, but authorization for their age group is still underway.

"It sucks," Lambert said. "I wish it were happening sooner.”

Pfizer says they plan to submit their data by the end of September and Moderna says they plan to follow close behind. After that, it will be up to the FDA, then the CDC to grant emergency use.

“As soon as there is some sort of indication that my older child or both of them would be eligible, we will be all over it,” Lambert said.

However some parents are tired of waiting. Instead, they’re reportedly going into their local pharmacy and lying about their kid's age to get them the vaccine.

“Have you ever thought about going into your local pharmacy with your 11-year-old, and just saying he’s 12,” asked 7 Action News reporter Brett Kast.

"I just feel like it’s not the right thing to do," Lambert responded. "I would not do it.”

MDHHS says they have heard about this happening occasionally, but don’t know how often. They said that each instance should be reported to the CDC VAERS system if it occurs.

We combed through the VAERS data and quickly found more than a dozen reports about this happening in Michigan.

According to one report from June, a parent lied about their child’s age at a vaccine clinic. Another report from July shows a mother admitted to lying, only after the child's doctor's office notified the pharmacy.

In some cases, like another report from May, the insurance company flagged the pharmacy, but the parent still insisted their child was 12. Later, the parent claimed they had just found the child’s birth certificate and realized they were wrong, and the child was actually 11.

“I understand that parents are scared, but I think they’re putting their kids at risk,” said Dr. Rudolph Valentini, Chief Medical Officer at Detroit Medical Center.

Dr Valentini is also a board certified pediatrician. He says a child’s immune system is more sensitive, and the COVID vaccine dose currently being studied in children is smaller than what is given today to adults at the pharmacy.

“The standard adult dose, the one that has been tested and proven safe in 12 and up, is potentially dangerous to be given to a 10-year-old or an 8-year-old or a 6-year-old, where it has not been studied,” Dr. Valentini said.

While the process is moving slower than many parents may like, Dr. Valentini urges patience.

“It's a rigorous process. It doesn't happen overnight," Dr. Valentini said.

Meanwhile, Julie is getting ready to send her kids back to school in a mask, which is required by her district. She's hoping she will be able to add another layer of protection as soon as possible.

“Hearing all these stories about districts already back and optional masking and just how pervasive the delta variant is, I'm disappointed, but I understand,” Lambert said.

MDHHS says there is a statewide vaccination database that pharmacists should be double checking before vaccination to confirm the date of birth. However, the department has said previously that there are situations where access to the system is not available until after vaccination.

As for the parents who lie, the department says they are not aware of any potential penalties for doing so.