RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Minors in North Carolina would have to get written consent from a parent or guardian to get the COVID-19 vaccine under a bill that got approval in a Senate committee Thursday.
The bill, which could be up for a vote in the full Senate next month, requires parental consent for vaccines authorized under emergency use. The bill does not apply to vaccines that have full authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Sen. Jim Burgin (R- Harnett) said he’s heard from parents who raised concerns.
“Parents need to know what their children are gonna be given. Any kind of medication, I think the parent needs to be able to be involved in that,” he said.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 41 states require parental consent for minors under 18 to get the COVID-19 vaccine with some exceptions. In Rhode Island and South Carolina, a minor can consent for themselves at 16. In Oregon, it’s 15. In Alabama, it’s 14. And in Washington, D.C., it’s 11.
North Carolina is among five states that apply the “mature minor doctrine,” according to KFF.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services notes that under state law, minors under 18 have “the ability to make certain health decisions, including the choice to get a COVID-19 vaccine, if they show the decisional capacity to do so.”
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“COVID vaccination is one of those medical treatments that North Carolina says the child is able to consent for on their own,” Elizabeth Ramsey at UNC Health recently told CBS 17. “As long as they show that they have clear decision-making ability, then we’ll allow them to consent.”
Some vaccine providers in North Carolina do require parental consent. DHHS officials said they expect that most youths eligible for the vaccine are indeed getting permission to get it.
“I encourage people to get vaccines. I was talking to folks yesterday. We’ve seen an uptick in hospitalizations,” Burgin said. “I’ve got friends that are in the hospital right now that are undergoing treatment and one that’s actually on a ventilator. So, I encourage folks to go get a vaccine.”
With cases rising once again due to the delta variant and the pace of vaccinations continuing to slow down, according to state data, Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Wake) questioned the need for the bill.
“I think the state ought to be doing everything we can to make it easier to get a vaccine, not harder,” he said. “We don’t want to put up extra roadblocks. So, if you’re able to get a vaccine, I think that’s a decision younger folks ought to be able to make for themselves.”
President Joe Biden said Wednesday on CNN he thinks full FDA authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines could come as soon as the end of August, if not early fall.