Bill Would Let Children Over 12 Get Vaccines Without Parents' Consent

A new bill has been tabled in California that, if passed, would allow children aged 12 or older to receive COVID-19 vaccines without the permission of their parents.

Currently, in California minors aged 12 to 17 cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine without parental consent. However, there are some exceptions—in San Francisco County, those 12 or older can self-consent as long as the healthcare provider reasonably attempts to notify their guardian and allow them the opportunity to object.

In California, minors do not need parental consent to get the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) or Hepatitis B vaccines.

Senate Bill 866 was authored by State Sens. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). If passed, it would allow vaccine providers to give doses to children 12 and over without permission from guardians. Under the new law, it would not be a legal requirement for parents to know that their child has received the vaccine.

The 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, including the COVID-19 vaccine. In the U.S. the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only inoculation that has been approved for 12–17-year-olds.

Vaccine consent laws vary across the country. For example, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia allow children aged 11 and older to be inoculated without their parents' consent. Alabama's age is 14, Oregon is 15, and Rhode Island and South Carolina set it at 16.

In his argument to push through the new law, Wiener noted that children could already get the HPV and Hepatitis B vaccines without parental consent in California.

"Giving young people the autonomy to receive life-saving vaccines, regardless of their parents' beliefs or work schedules, is essential for their physical and mental health," Wiener said. "It's unconscionable for teens to be blocked from the vaccine because a parent either refuses or cannot take their child to a vaccination site."

"This is about empowering teenagers to make decisions on their own health and their own safety," Wiener said. "Almost a million California teenagers are unvaccinated, and for a lot of those teens it's because their parents either refuse to get them vaccinated or they have not yet gotten around to it."

The new bill is the first to come out of the Vaccine Work Group announced by state Democrats Wednesday. The group is tasked with determining what the legal system should do to up vaccination rates.

"This won't be the only bill," Wiener added.

Newsweek has contacted Wiener for more comment on the bill and future bills regarding COVID. Newsweek has also contacted the California GOP for comment on Senate Bill 866.

In October, Democrat California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the country's first COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schoolchildren, but it likely won't take effect until later this year and allows exceptions for medical reasons.

Child having vaccine in LA
A girl holds her sister's hand to comfort her as a nurse prepares to administer a pediatric dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a L.A. A new bill is being debated in California that if passed, would allow children ages 12 or older to receive COVID-19 vaccines without the permission of their parents. Robyn Beck/Getty