2021 CA legislation
San Francisco County Public Health Officer ordered
The San Francisco City and County Public Health Officer, in Public Health Order No. C19-19 (https://www.sfdph.org/dph/alerts/files/Order-C19-19-Vaccination-Minors.pdf), recently ordered that minor children 12 years and older can themselves consent to a FDA-authorized or approved COVID vaccine, if a parent is not reachable. A Voice for Choice Advocacy wrote a letter asking for this order to be rescinded or updated it to accurately reflect state law. You can read our letter here: https://avoiceforchoiceadvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/AVFCA-Letter-Concering-Parental-informed-Consent-SF.pdf
Summary: While this Public Health Order may be permissible under AB262, passed in 2019, which allows local health officers to take any action they deem necessary during an epidemic, it incorrectly refers to current statute which cannot be changed or conflated. Specifically, the order states “this ability to consent is similar to the concept used elsewhere in state law that minors 12 years old or older may consent to the diagnosis or treatment of infectious diseases, including specifically COVID-19, without parental consent.”
The current California statute is very clear about the times when a minor 12 or older can consent to treatment, fully outlined in this document: http://teenhealthlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/2019CaMinorConsentConfChartFull.pdf. The state legislature has brought forward bills and passed laws on what minors 12 years and older can and cannot do, using the deliberative legislative process, which includes input from the public and interested parties.
There are two sections of Family Code § 6926, which the San Francisco Public Health Officer seem to be conflating:
“A minor who is 12 years of age or older and who may have come into contact with an infectious, contagious, or communicable disease may consent to medical care related to the diagnosis or treatment of the disease, if the disease… is one that is required by law…to be reported….”
“A minor 12 years of age or older who may have come into contact with a sexually transmitted disease may consent to medical care related to the diagnosis or treatment of the disease. A minor who is 12 years of age or older may also consent to medical care related to the prevention of a sexually transmitted disease.”
The first very clearly is related to the diagnosis and treatment of an infectious disease. The second, specifically includes consent related to medical care for the prevention of a sexually transmitted disease. The current statute does NOT give minors 12 and older the ability to consent to medical care related to the prevention of infectious diseases that are not sexually transmitted. In other words, they cannot consent to COVID-19 vaccinations. For this to become law the legislature would have to pass a new bill.
Take Action: Be sure to talk to your minor children about parental consent, what is means and why it is especially important with respect to medical treatments that could have severe adverse reactions.
Do not send your children to school on days when there is a vaccine clinic, so they don’t feel pressured into getting the vaccine because everyone else is, and no one gets confused as to whether they have parental consent.
If you live in San Francisco County/City, please read our letter, create your own and send it to Susan.Philip@sfdph.org; Board.of.Supervisors@sfgov.org; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
For all counties, go to your County Public Health Department’s website and sign up for their newsletter so you are notified of these types of orders. If your county puts something similar in place, please email A Voice for Choice Advocacy immediately, so we can take action and get others to do the same.
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