New California Bill Would Allow Kids 12+ To Get Covid Vaccine Without Parental Consent
If passed, the legislation would ensure California has the youngest age of any state when children can make their own decisions about vaccines. Washington, D.C. allows children ages 11 and older to be vaccinated without approval from parents.
California currently allows children ages 12 and older to, without parental consent, get the Human Papillomavirus and Hepatitis B vaccines, along with treatment of sexually transmitted infections and other medical care.
Democratic State Sen. Scott Wiener introduced the proposal on Thursday. It would allow minors 12 years and older to consent to vaccines that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In California Minors Cannot Receive A Covid
In San Francisco County, minors ages 12 years old or older can self-consent as long as the healthcare provider administering the dose reasonably attempts to notify their guardian and allow them the opportunity to object.
Note: At this time, minors must be 12 years of age or older to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in the U.S. and are only approved to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Minors Medical Rights In Limbo
Not all efforts by states to pass laws expanding the ability of minors to seek vaccination have succeeded. Recently, these measures have met strong opposition from the anti-vaccination movement, and history suggests that this will only increase in the face of COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy.
In 2020, a Maryland bill to permit minors over the age of 16 to consent to vaccination was withdrawn. New York lawmakers also proposed a bill that year to further expand the ability of minors over the age of 14 to consent to vaccination. So far, the bill appears to be stalled.
In the District of Columbia, a lawsuit has been filed challenging legislation passed in 2020 permitting minors of any ageas long as they are capable of meeting standards of informed consentto receive any vaccination recommended by the CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
It now appears that anti-vaccination sentiment has stalled expansion of the mature minor doctrine. I am not aware of any current court cases involving minors seeking vaccination over parental objections, nor of any cases of minors traveling to other states to receive vaccinations under this doctrine.
Even in states where the mature minor doctrine is established, most teenagers are probably unaware of their rights. And as recent history in Tennessee shows, efforts to educate them about those rights may prove controversial.
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Vaccination: In Canada Many Teenagers Dont Need Parental Consent
Timothy Caulfield, professor, faculty of Law and School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Member of the RSC CollegeMay 28, 2019
If a Canadian health-care professional believes that an adolescent is a mature minor and has not been vaccinated, they are legally and ethically obliged to provide them with information about vaccination. Timothy Caulfield, University of Alberta
A few months ago in the United States, Ohio teenager Ethan Lindenberger made headlines by going against his parents anti-vaccination views. He got immunized.
At a time of rising vaccine hesitancy, growing concern about measles outbreaks and increasingly aggressive rhetoric by the anti-vaxx movement, public health advocates around the world hailed this small act of teenage rebellion.
But why was it viewed as such an unusual act? At the time of his decision Ethan was 18 years old. In many countries around the world including Canada he would clearly be viewed as a legally competent adult, capable of making his own health-care decisions.
A Lawyer Explains Children Getting Vaccinated Without Parental Consent
Many parents have raised concerns about the appropriateness and health implications of the Covid-19 vaccination being made available to children, from this week, and this includes questions about the legality of this.
Here Mtho Maphumulo, Senior Associate at local law firm Adams & Adams, examines the law related to childrens legal consenting age to medical treatment, what happens when a child wants to get the vaccine but their parents do not want to give consent, as well as potential legal recourse where a child develops health complications.
The government’s efforts to drive the vaccination program towards herd immunity are still ongoing. This is obviously not without hurdles, especially as most people are still hesitant to vaccinate due to various reasons.
The government, for the most part, has been targeting adults for vaccination, though it seems like children are now also next in line.
In the past few weeks, there have been reports and concerns about the rise in Covid-positive cases amongst children. Since the reports surfaced that the government intends to reduce the vaccination age limit to just 12 years, many parents have raised huge concerns about the appropriateness and health implications of this.
Some have even questioned the legality of this. In view thereof, it is pertinent to take a closer look at the childrens legal consenting age to medical treatment.
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Not Just An Abstract Legal Question
When a child disagrees with their parents opposition to vaccination, it can deeply strain family bonds.
In 2019, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, an Ohio teenager named Ethan Lindenberger described how online misinformation about side effects frightened his mother to the point of refusing to let him get vaccinated.
Her love and affection and care as a parent was used to push an agenda to create a false distress, he said.
That left Lindenberger vulnerable to a number of preventable illnesses until he turned 18 and could decide for himself.
Lindenberger gave his testimony amid one of the worst measles outbreaks in the United States in decades. According to the CDC, 2019 saw 1,282 cases of measles in the U.S.nearly four times higher than 2018 and the highest since 1992. The majority of cases were among people who were not vaccinated against measles, according to the CDC.
Unvaccinated teens can also be vulnerable financially. Shortly after the publication of my book Vaccine, Vaccination and Immunization Law in 2018, I met a student at Florida International University with a similar experience. By the time the student had turned 18 and chose for themselves to be vaccinated, they were too old to be covered by the federally funded Vaccines For Children program. This student told me they were unable to afford the cost of the numerous recommended series of vaccines.
Fda Authorizes Pfizers Covid Vaccine For Kids Ages 5 To 11
Currently in California, minors ages 12 to 17 cannot be vaccinated without permission from their parents or guardian, unless the vaccine is specifically to prevent a sexually transmitted disease.
Wieners bill would lift the parental requirement for that age group for any vaccine that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That includes immunizations against the coronavirus, but Wiener said vaccine hesitancy and misinformation has also deterred vaccinations against measles and other contagious diseases that can then spread among youths whose parents wont agree to have them vaccinated.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom in October announced the nations first coronavirus vaccine mandate for schoolchildren. But it likely wont take effect until later this year and allows exemptions for medical reasons, religious and personal beliefs though lawmakers may try to limit non-medical reasons.
Wieners legislation is permissive, not a mandate, but any vaccination legislation has been hugely controversial in California and elsewhere.
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Even before the pandemic, busloads of opponents filled the Capital and lined up for hours to protest bills lifting religious and personal beliefs for the 10 vaccines already required of school children.
However, he thinks Wiener may have difficulty even in a Legislature overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats.
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What Are The Rules For Minors Getting Vaccinated In Each State
The rules for minors vary depending on where you live. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 41 states require the consent of a parent or guardian for minors under 18 years old . There are some notable exceptions: minors who are emancipated, unhoused, married, or living apart from their guardians can self-consent in many states. Some cities, like San Francisco and Philadelphia, allow minors 12 and older to self-consent, and Arizona allows a minor or their doctor to take the case to court if a parent refuses to consent.
Outside of those 41 states, things are more nuanced. In four states, a minors right to self-consent is age-dependent: In Rhode Island and South Carolina, you must be at least 16. In Oregon and Alabama, the age is 15 and 14, respectively. If you are at least 11 years old, you can self-consent in Washington D.C., but your healthcare provider is allowed to impose additional requirements and could insist your guardian is present.
A Teens Consent Is Enough
In Canada, at least for most procedures, the age of consent is likely much younger than 18.
If an adolescent is capable of understanding the nature of the treatment and the relevant risks and benefits he or she will be considered a mature minor. This must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. A teenager could be deemed competent for a specific health-care decision at age 16, 14 or, in some circumstances, even younger.
Ethan Lindenberger testifies during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 5, 2019.
In the context of vaccines, given the relatively straightforward nature of the benefits and risks , the age of consent seems likely to be relatively young.
If the legal standards of competence are met, then the adolescents consent is both necessary and sufficient. A parent or guardian need not be involved. Indeed, third parties, including parents, should only be involved after obtaining permission from the mature minor .
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What Do I Do If My Parents Wont Give Me Permission To Be Vaccinated
If your state or city requires that your parent or legal guardian consent, you still have options. All of the legal and health experts interviewed for this article said that before hitchhiking across state lines, you should explain to your parents why you want to be vaccinatedand even back up your decision with research from reputable sources. The experts said that vaccine hesitancy largely stems from the fact that all approved COVID-19 vaccines are still under emergency use authorization, so they expect many people to change their minds once the vaccines are fully approved by the FDA.
Jessica Malaty Rivera, an infectious disease epidemiologist and science communication lead for the COVID Tracking Project, told VICE that minors should keep the vaccine conversation going in a way thats loving and respectful. On minors making their case for vaccination, she said, his to me doesn’t seem like a rebellious thing that would be harmful. If anything, it’s just a misunderstanding on the side of the parents and the kids on everything from risk to tolerance of risk. Even if youre prepared for a fight, try to remember that yelling will likely only hurt your case.
If they still wont agree after all this, you still have safe and legal options.
What Are Your Options
It’s challenging for younger children to obtain any medical treatment without parental consent. “Typically authorization without parental consent would only be if the child was at extremely high risk for COVID-19 disease or illness and the decision can be made in conjunction with their healthcare provider,” says Christina Madison, PharmD, a clinical pharmacist specializing in public health with a focus on infectious communicable diseases. “For older children , the rules are state-specific.”
Currently, “Two cities, Philadelphia and San Francisco, permit minors over 12 years of age to self-consent for COVID-19 vaccination,” says Reischer. Dr. Ungerleider elaborates that “In San Francisco County, minors ages 12 years old or older can self-consent as long as the healthcare provider administering the dose reasonably attempts to notify their guardian and allow them the opportunity to object.”
Additionally, Washington DC passed a local law in 2019 that says people 11 years or older “may consent to receive a vaccine where the minor is capable of meeting the informed consent standard.” It was passed before the pandemic, but it applies to all government-recommended vaccines.
If you’re interested in getting vaccinated, Dr. Madison suggests “the adolescent to reach out to their pediatrician, federally qualified health center, or county health department and find out what their options are based on their state legislation.”
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Effects Of Omicron And Delta
The Delta variant does not appear to cause more severe disease among children and adolescents compared to previous variants.
There is little information available about Omicron yet, but it is at least as transmissible as Delta. It is not yet known whether it causes more severe illness than Delta or whether it puts children at greater risk than Delta. Data is rapidly emerging.
More information about variants
Getting Children And Young Adults Immunised
COVID-19 immunisations are free for everyone. Everyone over the age of 12 can get their first dose now. From 17 January, parents or caregivers of tamariki aged 5 to 11 can go to a walk-in clinic with their tamariki or use BookMyVaccine.nz to get immunised with their usual health provider, hauora or general practice .
If you want to book for more than one child or youre unable to book online, you can call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on and well make the booking for you and answer any questions. Interpreters are available.
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Low Vaccination Rate In Children Is A Real Concern Doctor Says
On Wednesday, Wiener and other Democratic lawmakers announced that they have formed a work group to examine ways to promote vaccines and fight misinformation.
Members include Sen. Richard Pan, a pediatrician who authored previous vaccine legislation Sen. Josh Newman and Assembly members Dr. Akilah Weber, Buffy Wicks, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, and Evan Low.
Wiener, joined by Pan, planned a news conference about his SB866 Friday alongside San Franciscos public health director, Dr. Grant Colfax, and several school children.
Wiener held out the examples of children who may want to get vaccinated because they currently are barred from participating in sports, band or other activities because their parents either wont or cant get them vaccinated.
Children age 5 and up are currently eligible for coronavirus vaccines, but 28.6 percent of those in California ages 12-17 remain unvaccinated more than 900,000 of an eligible population of more than 3 million, or more than one in four, Wiener said.
He said those 12 and up can also consent to abortions in California, though in that case lawmakers in 1987 passed a law that would have required minors to get their parents consent absent a medical emergency or a judges permission. But that law was overturned by the state Supreme Court.
Chat To The Disability Team
The team is made up of people who have experience of a disability themselves, or who have worked with the disabled community.
They can answer any questions about:
- accessibility arrangements at different vaccination centres
- getting your vaccination safely
- any effects the vaccine may have on the child or medications.
The disability team is available Monday to Friday, from 8am to 8pm.
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Education A Public Health Priority
Yes, ideally you want everyone in a family to be on the same page. You dont want to invite conflict. Family dynamics matter. And going against your parents wishes, even as a mature 18 year-old, can require more than a bit of bravery. But when a teenager is clearly competent to make a decision on his or her own, exploring vaccination options with a health-care provider should be the norm not a headline-grabbing anomaly.
High School nurse Sarah Day has been advocating for getting kids their shots against a loud contingent of anti-vaccine parents in the close-knit community of Vashon Island, Wash.
In addition, to make it easier for health-care providers, jurisdictions need to clarify and make readily available the consent framework relevant to minors. If the law permits teenagers to consent, than their consent will be both necessary and sufficient. Health-care providers need to know this and feel comfortable engaging teenagers on this important topic.
This legal reality should also remind us that educating teenagers about immunity and the value of vaccination should be a public health priority.
Vaccinated, educated adolescents are more likely to become tomorrows or, even todays science-informed public health advocates.
Side Effects Of Vaccination
The side effects of vaccination in children and young adults are similar to those seen in adults. These side effects are generally mild and should only last 1 or 2 days.
The most common side effects are:
- a sore arm from your injection you can put a cold cloth or ice pack on it to feel better
- a headache
- aching muscles.
After vaccination they will need to stay for at least 15 minutes so that a health professional can monitor for any immediate adverse reactions.
If they feel unwell, get them to rest and drink plenty of fluids. They should avoid vigorous exercise, like running around or swimming. Paracetamol can be taken after vaccination to help to relieve fever or pain.
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