SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California would allow children ages 12 and over to be vaccinated without parental consent, the youngest age in any state, on a proposal by a state senator late Thursday.
According to Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat proposing the change, Alabama allows such decisions at age 14, Oregon at age 15, Rhode Island and South Carolina at age 16. Only Washington, DC has a lower age limit of 11 years.
CONTINUE READING: ‘It’s scary’: Family grateful for arrest eight months after Sacramento Light Rail Station woman murder
Wiener argued that California allows consent for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse and mental disorders as early as 12 years of age.
“Giving young people the autonomy to get life-saving vaccines, regardless of their parents’ beliefs or work schedules, is critical to their physical and mental health,” he said. “It is unscrupulous for teenagers to be excluded from vaccination because a parent refuses or is unable to take their child to a vaccination center.”
Currently, minors in California between the ages of 12 and 17 cannot be vaccinated without parental or guardian permission unless the vaccine is designed specifically to prevent an STD.
Wiener’s bill would remove the parental requirement for that age group for any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That includes vaccinations against the coronavirus, but Wiener said vaccination hesitation and misinformation have also deterred vaccinations against measles and other contagious diseases, which can then spread among youth whose parents don’t consent to vaccination.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine mandate for schoolchildren in October. But it likely won’t come into force until later this year and allows exceptions on medical grounds, religious and personal beliefs – although lawmakers can try to limit non-medical grounds.
Wiener legislation is permissive, not mandated, but any vaccination legislation has been highly controversial in California and elsewhere.
Even before the pandemic, busloads of opponents filled the capital, queuing for hours to protest bills removing religious and personal beliefs for the 10 vaccines already mandatory for schoolchildren.
CONTINUE READING: WATCH: Driver loses control trying to weave through traffic and falls down an embankment in Sacramento
And in September, more than a thousand people demonstrated outside the state Capitol to oppose vaccination requirements, even as lawmakers postponed their review of laws requiring workers to be either vaccinated or tested weekly for the coronavirus in order to be able to work to keep.
“This strikes me as another example of Democrats wanting to take parents out of the equation,” said Republican Rep. James Gallagher. “I think that’s a flawed policy. I think parents are critical to these decisions.”
However, he believes Wiener could struggle even in a legislature predominantly controlled by Democrats.
“I think there will be bipartisan support for the suggestion that parents should be involved in their children’s health care decisions, in deciding what types of medical care and medication they should take,” Gallagher said.
On Wednesday, Wiener and other Democratic lawmakers announced they have formed a “working group” to study ways to promote vaccines and combat misinformation.
Members include Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician who authored previous vaccine legislation; Senator Josh Newman; and meeting members Dr. Akilah Weber, Buffy Wicks, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Evan Low.
Wiener, along with Pan, planned with San Francisco health director Dr. Grant Colfax, and several school children, held a press conference about his SB866 on Friday.
Wiener gave the examples of children who may want to be vaccinated because they are currently barred from participating in sports, band or other activities because their parents are unwilling or unable to vaccinate them.
Children as young as 5 are currently eligible for coronavirus vaccines, but 28.6 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in California remain unvaccinated — more than 900,000 of an eligible population of more than 3 million, or more than one in four, Wiener said.
MORE NEWS: Sacramento County is telling residents to avoid emergency rooms if symptoms are mild
He said that people as young as 12 can also consent to abortions in California, although in this case the legislature passed a law in 1987 that would have required minors to get their parents’ consent unless there was a medical emergency or a judge’s permission. However, this law was overturned by the state Supreme Court.