California could let kids 12 and up get vaccinated without parental consent

January 21, 2022, 4:55 PM UTC

In many states, there’s an opinion gap between children and their parents when it comes to vaccinations. On Thursday, California legislators introduced a bill that would take the decision-making authority away from parents and put it in the hands of children 12 years and older.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would let anyone 12 or older to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or any other virus (including chickenpox, influenza, and measles) without their parents’ consent or knowledge. It’s expected to be fiercely debated in the state legislature, where some protestors have been arrested previously amid reviews of vaccine exemption rules and more.

The bill is the first proposal from the state’s Vaccine Work Group, which is looking at ways lawmakers can improve vaccine rates through California and cut down on misinformation. Proponents say other bills are forthcoming.

There is some precedent for this in the state. Children 12 and up in California are already permitted to make some health care decisions on their own, including obtaining vaccines for hepatitis B and the human papillomavirus (HPV).

And Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia both allow children 11 and older to be inoculated without parental approval.

The Los Angeles Times reports that almost 1 million teens are unvaccinated in California. In many of those cases, it’s because the parents have acted as a roadblock, either refusing to allow them to get the shots or simply not finding the time to do so. In October, California announced it would require all schoolchildren to be vaccinated to attend classes.

The bill comes as Omicron cases continue to build in America and some scientists are growing worried about the Omicron subvariant BA.2, nicknamed the “stealth Omicron,” which could be outpacing other sub-strains of Omicron in some regions of the world, raising fears of another surge in cases.

 If approved, the measure would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

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