Spartan Spear: Bill seeks to circumvent parental permission for vaccine


Keiko Casserly ‘23, Staff Reporter

On Jan. 20, in the midst of the Omicron spike in the United States, California State Senator Scott Weiner introduced Senate Bill 866, the Teens Choose Vaccines Act. SB 866 would provide minors 12 years and older the authority to get vaccinated, without parental consent, for all vaccinations that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes the much-discussed COVID-19 vaccine.

“You have parents who are blocking their kids from getting the vaccines or … they may not be anti-vaccine but they just aren’t prioritizing it,” said Weiner, “Those kids deserve the right to protect themselves.” 

Weiner was quick to receive support from many young people and health professionals. However, he was just as quick to receive opposition, especially from concerned parents.

Although there may be exceptions, children between the ages of 12 and 14 are generally too young and underdeveloped to make possibly consequential decisions, as this is the period during which cognitive growth occurs.

At 12 years old, a child is only just beginning to use more complex thinking and perform logical operations. “13- and 14-year-olds…don’t [know too much information] about the vaccines other than [that] people are getting them and that if you want to go to school in-person you need them,” said Chip Garnett, a school district parental group leader in San Diego, in news reports. 

Children of this age might impulsively decide to get vaccinated without proper consideration and may not be able to handle the responsibility of making their own medical decisions.

Furthermore, should this bill be passed, it would completely remove a parent’s ability to make, or even be part of, this decision. 

This can pose possible safety concerns, as many children younger than 15 most likely do not have full access to or knowledge of their medical records and history.

Therefore, without a parent present, providers may administer a vaccine to a child without having complete knowledge of any allergies, underlying medical conditions, or side effects present in the family.

Like Weiner, I have sympathy for those whose parents’ religious, political, or other beliefs prevent them from getting vaccinated. In these cases it can be understood why a young individual would want the authority to make this decision.

However, I personally believe that 15 is the youngest age at which this responsibility should be given to a child, as they are more mentally developed and approaching “legal adulthood.”