California won’t expand teen vaccines without parental OK

California won't allow teens age 15 and up to be vaccinated against the coronavirus without their parents' consent.

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FILE — Finley Martin, 14, gets a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena, May 14, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif. A bill that would have allowed teens age 15 and up to get the coronavirus vaccine without parental consent will not pass the Legislature, state Sen. Scott Wiener announced, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. Wiener, the bill's author, said it didn't have enough support to clear the state Assembly. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

By Don Thompson, Associated Press

California won’t allow teens age 15 and up to be vaccinated against the coronavirus without their parents’ consent.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, the bill’s author, announced Wednesday he won’t put the measure up for a vote in the state Assembly because it doesn’t have enough support to pass.

Minors age 12 to 17 in California already can receive vaccinations for hepatitis B and HPV, which prevent sexually transmitted diseases, without permission from their parents or guardians. The bill would have allowed teens 15 and older to receive any vaccine that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even if their parents objected.

Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, blamed the lack of support on “months of harassment and misinformation” by “a small but highly vocal and organized minority of anti-vaxxers.”

“The anti-vaxxers may have prevailed in this particular fight, but the broader fight for science and health continues,” he said in a statement.

A coalition of groups opposed to vaccine mandates called it a “blatant, dangerous trampling of California parents’ and guardians’ ability to protect and care for their children.”

A Voice for Choice Advocacy said minors may not know their full medical history and the potential risks. And if they don’t tell their parents that they obtained the vaccine on their own, the group said parents may not know what’s wrong if their child has an adverse reaction.

Vaccine consent ages vary across the country. Alabama allows children to consent to vaccines starting at age 14, Oregon at 15 and Rhode Island and South Carolina at 16. Cities including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., allow children age 11 and up to consent to COVID-19 vaccines, and in San Francisco the age is 12 and older.

The teen consent bill was one several coronavirus-related bills that faced heavy opposition.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic Sen. Richard Pan both delayed until next year measures relating to school vaccinations, while Democratic Assemblymember Buffy Wicks withdrew her bill that would have forced all California businesses to require coronavirus vaccines for their employees.

Another Pan bill still moving forward would require schools create COVID-19 testing plans.

Also still under consideration are a bill by Democratic Assemblymember Evan Low that would make doctors spreading coronavirus misinformation or disinformation subject to discipline for professional misconduct, and one by Democratic Assemblymember Akilah Weber that would require health care providers, schools, child care facilities and others to disclose certain patient information to the California Department of Public Health and local health officials.