A California mother has said that her 13-year-old son was told not to say anything after being given the COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for pizza at his school without her consent.
Maribel Duarte said on Monday that her son recently came home from Barack Obama Global Prep Academy in South Los Angeles with a vaccine card, telling her that he accepted the shot after he was offered pizza.
"It hurt to know he got a shot without my permission, without knowing and without signing any papers for him to get the shot," Duarte said, adding that she is vaccinated and isn’t anti-vaccine.
The mother said that the woman who gave her son the shot and told him, "Please don’t say anything. I don’t want to get in trouble."
The child’s school is a part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second-largest in the U.S., which saw enrollment drop by more than 27,000 – or 6% – at beginning of the school year amid a vaccine mandate for kids over 12 years old.
The district said that while it can’t comment on student matters, it does follow a "safe schools to safe steps incentive program" that allows vaccinated students to get prizes.
An LAUSD spokesperson said on Monday that it was "currently unable to confirm that this incident occurred at Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy."
"With the Jan. 10, 2022, student vaccination deadline approaching, the District introduced the Safe Schools to Safe Steps Incentive Program throughout Los Angeles Unified Schools," the spokesperson said. "This program offers incentives to families who upload proof of their vaccine, have an approved medical exemption, or have conditional admissions."
The spokesperson said that the school has an overall vaccination rate of over 80%, adding that vaccinations are "an essential part of the multi-layered protection against COVID-19" that will keep students healthy for in-person learning.
The LAUSD announced in Sept. that all students 12 years of age or older will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 10, 2022, unless they are granted a medical or other exemption.
Students who remain unvaccinated without an exemption will be forced to shift back to virtual learning.