Los Angeles, CA | 18
2021 Award Recipient
Long before the pandemic, Kelly read about a teenager with anti-vaccine parents who wanted to self-consent to vaccinations to protect his immunocompromised sister. When she tried to help him, she found hundreds of peers with similar concerns and a lack of accessible resources. She founded VaxTeen to provide centralized information on vaccines and vaccine access in all 50 states and advocate for legislation allowing older minors to self-consent to vaccines. VaxTeen’s goal is to increase immunization rates and reduce preventable disease; they have successfully lobbied D.C. councilmembers to pass a minor self-consent bill, educated medical professionals on supporting and reaching young people, and published an op-ed in the LA Times advocating for teen vaccine access. To date, VaxTeen has mobilized 30 teenaged ambassadors nationwide to conduct outreach in their own communities to encourage vaccination, in addition to working with the University of Michigan Adolescent Health Initiative, Planned Parenthood, and the CA Department of Public Health. Kelly hopes to broaden VaxTeen’s reach to youth nationwide while continuing to advocate for legislative change.
According to the W.H.O., vaccine hesitancy is a top threat to global health. Kelly founded VaxTeen to educate teens and young adults on the importance of vaccines and empower them to make well-informed decisions regarding their health.