Health · June 18, 2022

California lawmakers are changing a law that would have allowed teens to be vaccinated without parental consent

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California lawmakers on Thursday amended a bill that would have allowed teens to be vaccinated against a range of health conditions without parental consent, instead raising the proposed minimum age to 15, which is still among the youngest in the United States

Currently, minors between the ages of 12 and 17 in California cannot be vaccinated without permission from their parents or guardians, except for immunizations to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. California law allows people as young as 12 to consent to hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.

The bill, which passed the Senate by a 21-8 vote last month, would have allowed people ages 12 and older to receive any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including against the coronavirus, even if her parents were against it. It would have been the youngest age of consent in each state.

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Republican Rep. Kevin Kiley said in a tweet that the bill had “nowhere near” the required 41 votes to pass the convention.

Catie Stewart, spokeswoman for the bill’s author, Democratic Senator Scott Wiener, said supporters of the measure had almost enough votes in the assembly, but “it wasn’t a hit.”

“We think this will help make it easier,” she said. “And we think the majority of people who will use that will be between the ages of 15 and 18, so we thought it was a good compromise.”

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A healthcare worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine to a teenager in New York.  A California law that would allow teens to be vaccinated without parental consent is being changed, increasing the minimum age to 15 instead.

A healthcare worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine to a teenager in New York. A California law that would allow teens to be vaccinated without parental consent is being changed, increasing the minimum age to 15 instead.
(Johnny Milano/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The change will not change the lower age of consent for vaccines related to STDs.

Wiener’s measure is the latest coronavirus-related bill that is facing headwinds. Several other proposals stalled as the winter pandemic wave subsided, leaving perhaps its most controversial remaining legislation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Richard Pan delayed both measures regarding school vaccinations until next year, and Member of Parliament Buffy Wicks withdrew their bill that would have forced all California companies to require coronavirus vaccines for their employees.

Stewart acknowledged that many members of the congregation had concerns about the younger age and “we want to work with people to get this across the finish line.”

Alabama allows children as young as 14 to consent to vaccinations, Oregon as young as 15, and Rhode Island and South Carolina as young as 16. Cities like Philadelphia and Washington, DC allow children as young as 11 to consent to COVID-19 vaccines, and in San Francisco the age is 12 and older.

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Republican Assembly Member Heath Flora said raising the age to 15 “doesn’t go far enough.”

“The state has tried over the years to give 17-year-olds the right to vote and 12-year-olds the right to make medical decisions,” he said. “But we don’t want to pursue criminals as adults until they’re 25 because their brains aren’t fully developed.”