Forum: Some teens are unvaccinated not by choice

As Singapore begins transiting to the new normal, I believe it is time for the Government to address the plight of unvaccinated teens.

Specifically, those aged between 13 and 18, who are currently subject to the same restrictions as unvaccinated adults. What sets them apart is that staying unvaccinated is not entirely their choice.

Teenagers who want to get vaccinated need parental consent. This is not a problem for most, but if one's parents are staunchly against vaccination, there is not much one can do. One must live with the restrictions.

One reason for vaccination-differentiated measures is to protect unvaccinated people from falling sick and in turn prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

The measures are also punitive, aiming to nudge the unvaccinated into inoculation by making life for the group increasingly difficult.

But when considered in the context of teenagers, these arguments do not bear as much weight.

First, the risk of them dying or falling seriously ill from Covid-19 is lower. Second, since they are subject to their parents' decisions on vaccination, convincing teens to get vaccinated does little good.

It seems to me, then, that there is not much to gain from continuing to restrict teens.

Life restricted by vaccination-differentiated measures is difficult for unvaccinated teens. The only way to enter malls, eat out or do many other things is to produce a negative pre-event test result. Soon, even that will not be possible.

Trying to live through one's formative years while restricted by vaccination-differentiated measures is much like trying to convince stubborn parents to allow one to get vaccinated - tiring and detrimental to one's mental equilibrium.

When making decisions, remember to consider the human cost, both tangible and intangible.

Covid-19 has already taken two years of teenagers' lives.

Is it necessary to take more?

Trystan Raj