SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will allow children aged 12 and over to be vaccinated without their parental consent, the youngest age in any state, at the suggestion of a state senator late Thursday night.
Alabama allows such decisions at age 14, Oregon at 15, Rhode Island and South Carolina at 16, according to Senator Scott Wiener, the San Francisco Democrat who is proposing the change. Only Washington, D.C. has a lower limit at age 11.
Viner argued that California already allows individuals 12 years of age or older to consent to hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations, as well as treatment for sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, and psychiatric disorders.
“Enabling young people to self-sustain life-saving vaccines, regardless of their parents’ beliefs or work schedule, is essential to their physical and mental health,” he said. “It is unacceptable for teenagers to block vaccinations because a parent either refuses or is unable to take their child to a vaccination site.”
Currently in California, minors between the ages of 12 and 17 cannot be vaccinated without the permission of their parents or guardians, unless the vaccine is specifically designed to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Wiener’s bill would eliminate parental requirements for this age group for any vaccine that has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That includes immunization against the coronavirus, but Wiener said vaccine hesitancy and misinformation also hold back vaccination against measles and other contagious diseases, which could then spread to young people whose parents won’t agree to their vaccination.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the nation’s first mandatory coronavirus vaccination for school children in October. But it probably won’t go into effect until later this year and allows exceptions for medical, religious and personal reasons, although lawmakers may try to limit non-medical reasons.
The Wiener Act is permissive, not mandatory, but any vaccination legislation is hugely controversial in California and elsewhere.
Even before the pandemic, buses of opponents filled the capital and lined up for hours to protest against bills that would remove religious and personal beliefs for 10 vaccines already required for schoolchildren.
And in September, more than a thousand people rallied outside the State Capitol to oppose vaccination mandates, even as lawmakers delayed consideration of a law requiring workers to either get vaccinated or get tested weekly for the coronavirus to keep their jobs.
“I think this is another example of Democrats wanting to take parents out of the equation,” said Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher. “I think this is a misguided policy. I think parents are vital to these decisions.”
However, he believes that Wiener could have difficulties even in the legislature, which is overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats.
“I think there will be bipartisan support for the proposal that parents should be involved in making decisions about the health of their children, in deciding what types of medical care and what medications they should take,” Gallagher said.
On Wednesday, Wiener and other Democratic lawmakers announced they had formed a “working group” to study ways to promote vaccines and fight disinformation.
Members include Senator Richard Pan, pediatrician, author of previous vaccine legislation; Senator Josh Newman; and Assembly members Dr. Akila Weber, Buffy Weeks, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, and Evan Lowe.
Viner, joined by Peng, scheduled a press conference on Friday about his SB866 along with San Francisco Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax and several schoolchildren.
Viner gave examples of children who might want to get vaccinated because they are currently banned from participating in sports, concerts or other events because their parents either don’t want or can’t vaccinate them.
Children ages 5 and older are currently eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, Viner said, but 28.6% of children ages 12 to 17 in California remain unvaccinated — more than 900,000 of an eligible population of more than 3 million. , or more than one in four.
He said that those aged 12 and over can also consent to abortions in California, although in this case, lawmakers in 1987 passed a law requiring minors to obtain their parent’s consent in the absence of a medical emergency or a judge’s permission. But that law was overturned by the state Supreme Court.