Lawmaker Sponsors Bill To Allow Teenagers To Get Vaccines Without Parents' Consent

A Pennsylvania state senator is now sponsoring a bill to allow kids ages 14 and older to get vaccines if their doctors recommend it, even if their parents don’t.

Video Transcript

- More and more kids are getting the COVID vaccine, but many parents are still hesitant. And there are questions about when a teenager should be allowed to make his or her own medical decisions. Kristine Sorenson reports on an effort to let kids 14 and older get vaccines even without their parents' OK.

KRISTINE SORENSON: Right now, kids under 18 need a parent's consent to get a vaccine. But state Senator Amanda Cappelletti from Montgomery County is writing a bill to allow kids 14 and older to make their own decision about a vaccine after talking with their family doctor or pediatrician.

The Taylor sisters are ready to get the COVID vaccine, not that they like shots, but they like the idea of being protected from the virus.

AMBER TAYLOR: It just kind of makes sense to get it instead of just risking everything and just being out here without it.

KRISTINE SORENSON: Their mom was excited, too.

- It was definitely a no brainer after I got my vaccination.

KRISTINE SORENSON: But not all kids and parents agree on whether or not to get the COVID vaccine. State Senator Amanda Cappelletti says at a vaccine clinic recently, she met a teenager who wanted the vaccine, but his parents weren't there to give approval. That's when she began looking into the legal rights for kids 14 and older when it comes to vaccines.

AMANDA CAPPELLETTI: A lot of states do have some different and better laws, if you ask me as a public health professional, allowing young people to learn about what's happening to their body, and then make the decision in concert with their doctor about what's happening.

KRISTINE SORENSON: This bill would allow teenagers 14 to 18 to talk with their doctor, and if they choose to get the COVID vaccine or any vaccine, would allow them to do that, even without a parent's consent. Cappelletti says this also makes it easier for split families when parents disagree on vaccines to allow the teenager to decide. But not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

PAULO NZAMBI: I'd be reluctant. And I don't know that the public would be ready to receive an opportunity, where really people who are critical to the development and the nurturing of a child were left out of that decision-making process.

KRISTINE SORENSON: But Senator cappelletti says 14 is not too young.

AMANDA CAPPELLETTI: I think that we underestimate the maturity and intelligence of young people.

KRISTINE SORENSON: The Senator hopes to introduce this to the Pennsylvania State legislature in about a month. And then it's up to the Republican leadership to decide if it will come to a vote. I'm Kristine Sorensen, KDKA News.