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Bill advances to let California teens get vaccinated without parental consent

Brayden Stymans, 15, left, receives a Covid-19 vaccine injection from nurse in Oakland on May 19, 2021.
Anda Chu
Bay Area News Group
Brayden Stymans, 15, left, receives a Covid-19 vaccine injection from nurse in Oakland on May 19, 2021.

California lawmakers pass a bill to allow youths 12 and older to get vaccines without parental consent, despite lots of controversy.

California kids 12 and older are one step closer to being able to get vaccinated without parental consent after a key legislative committee on Thursday passed a controversial bill on a 7-0 vote despite hundreds of people expressing fierce opposition.

Just five of the eight bills introduced this year by a vaccine working group of Democratic lawmakers are still alive — and state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco’s proposal to allow kids ages 12 to 17 to receive FDA-approved vaccines without a parent’s permission is by far the most contentious.

Public comment in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s unwieldy hearing was dominated by those who oppose the bill. One woman, who described herself as “an ambassador for Jesus Christ,” labeled it “demonic.” Others called lawmakers “delusional” and “pedophiles,” and one caller told the committee, “I hope God forgives you.”

Many callers said they opposed the bill because their kids had been “vaccine-injured.” Maribel Duarte, a single mother of six who attended the hearing in person, spoke tearfully about the worsening health problems her son, who suffers from asthma and a bleeding disorder, began experiencing after he received the COVID-19 vaccine at school without her consent “for an exchange of pizza.”

  • Duarte: “I feel that in that age, they still don’t have that mentality or rightness to choose if they’re OK or healthy enough to make that decision.”

The hearing illuminates the increasingly urgent challenges state lawmakers will face as California approaches the new start date of its postponed student COVID vaccine mandate, which is no earlier than July 2023: How can the state boost low youth vaccination rates while simultaneously building trust in the community — and supporting families whose kids may experience adverse reactions?

  • Wiener: “No one argues that vaccine injuries never happen. No one is saying that. And the people who have testified about their kids, that’s their experience, and I’m not in any way disputing what they said about their child. … I imagine that there are rare instances in which the polio vaccine harmed someone, but put that against all the children that would have been debilitated, paralyzed or dead had we not had a mass vaccination campaign for polio.”
  • State Sen. María Elena Durazo, a Los Angeles Democrat: “I think younger people should be empowered to know … as much as possible about their health care. … We want them to grow up to be, you know, fully informed adults who can make decisions.”

Republican state Sen. Brian Jones of El Cajon, who said he opposed the bill but wasn’t in the room when the final vote took place, argued that “some of the arguments on this parental consent breaks down” when one considers that state lawmakers in 2011 passed a bill to ban minors from using ultraviolet tanning devices.

In other COVID-19 news:

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.