Bill Would Let 12-Year-Olds Make Decision on Vaccination

Parents' permission would not be required under California bill from new panel
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2022 1:55 PM CST
California Looks at Letting 12 and Up Make Call on Vaccine
A student wears a mask while waiting for class to start earlier this month at Washington Elementary School in Lynwood, Calif.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Legislation introduced in California would leave parents out of the decision to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus, as long as they've turned 12. That would be the youngest age of consent among the states. DC allows 11-year-olds to make the decision, KCRA reports, and four states have set the age at 14, 15, or 16. "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," said the bill's sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener.

Wiener is part of the legislature's new Vaccine Work Group, per Politico. Seven lawmakers are charged with coming up with legislation to combat the spread of COVID-19 and counter address vaccine misinformation. Of Californians ages 12 to 17, more than 28% have not been vaccinated. Weiner said that could keep many of them from jobs or taking part in sports or other activities. Many of them want the shots, he said. "When these kids can’t get vaccinated, we’re preventing them from having the best possible teenage years," Weiner said.

The change would apply to any vaccine that has the approval of the FDA and recommendation by the CDC's immunization advisory committee. Anyone 12 and older already can decide to receive the HPV and hepatitis B vaccines. Under California law, 12-year-olds are permitted to consent to an abortion and receive birth control and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, as well as drug and alcohol-related disorders. "This is not a new or radical idea," Weiner said, "it's very consistent with existing law." (More coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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