Sen. Scott Wiener announced a new bill Friday that would lower the age of consent to receive any vaccine to just 12 years old. Wiener said giving teenagers access to vaccines isn’t just important for their health, but also for their ability to resume participating in sports, work and social activities.
“This bill will empower these teens,” Wiener said at a Friday press conference.
In San Francisco, an estimated 90% of adolescents and teens 12 to 17 are vaccinated, according to the San Francisco Department of Health. Through an emergency order passed last April, San Francisco residents 12 and older can consent to receive any Covid vaccine that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—so long as their doctor makes a “reasonable attempt” to contact their legal guardian.
If passed, the new law would go into effect for the entire state on Jan. 1, 2023. In the meantime, Wiener encouraged kids who want vaccines to seek out resources to help them talk to their parents about their health.
While 12- to 17-year-olds currently can’t get most vaccines without parental permission, there is precedent for a lower age of vaccine consent, Wiener said. Teens who want to get shots specifically to prevent sexually transmitted diseases like HPV or want access to birth control can do so without parental approval.
State Sen. Richard Pan, a practicing pediatrician who represents Sacramento and supports the bill, said many kids aren’t able to get vaccines because their parents are too busy, forget to sign consent forms or are generally absent.
“These all become major barriers,” Pan said. “And meanwhile, we’re in the middle of a pandemic so every day that they’re not getting vaccinated, they’re vulnerable.”
Nyla Gibb, a 12-year-old San Francisco resident, said she is old enough to make the decision to get a vaccine. She and her younger brother both got Covid recently, and she was grateful to have been vaccinated and have access to information about Covid vaccines.
“Minors should have a right to what they’re putting in their bodies,” Gibb said.Sarah Wright can be reached at [email protected].