California State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, introduced a state bill Thursday that would allow children ages 12 and older to get Food and Drug Administration approved vaccines without the consent of, or a notification to, parents.
"A minor 12 years of age or older may consent to a vaccine that is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and meets the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention without the consent of the parent or guardian of the minor," the proposed bill reads.
In a press release announcing the legislation, Weiner said the bill gives those children "autonomy" to get vaccines that could save their lives.
"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," said Sen. Wiener, who represents District 11, which includes all of San Francisco, Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City, as well as portions of South San Francisco.
"COVID-19 is a deadly virus for the unvaccinated, and 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. So many teens want to be vaccinated so that they can lead a more normal life — participating in sports or band, traveling, going to friends' homes — but they're prevented from doing so due to their parents' political views or inability to find the time.
"Unvaccinated teens also make schools less safe and threaten our ability to keep schools open. In states like Alabama and South Carolina, teenagers are already allowed to get vaccinated without parental consent. Young Californians should also have the right to keep themselves healthy and safe."
According to the release, a quarter of the state's youth population, or almost 1 million young people in the state between 12 and 17, currently cannot be vaccinated against COVID but could seek vaccinations for sexually transmitted diseases under current state laws and forms a "barrier" when the parents and children hold conflicting views.
In addition to COVID, the bill also encompasses diseases including measles, which parents could block children from getting unless they consent, the release said.
"In my view, this change in California policy is so important because it's not only for COVID, it's for all vaccines that protect us," Nyla, a seventh grade student in San Francisco said in the release. "I can't think of a good reason why laws shouldn't let people my age choose to lower our risk of getting really sick. And vaccines not only make us safer, they keep our friends and family safe, too."
According to the CDC, 210 million people, or 63.3% of the United States, are currently "fully vaccinated" against COVID-19 and have received either one or two doses of the three available vaccines.
Almost 14 million children between 12-17 are fully vaccinated, representing 6.6% of the vaccinated population in the country, the agency said.
In California, 27.3 million residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated (72% of population), including 3.1 million (63.7% of the 12-17 age group), and another 3.3 million of the total population of 38.9 million have received at least one dose, according to the state.
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