RALEIGH, N.C. — Parents in North Carolina would have to sign off on their children’s COVID-19 vaccination after a state bill advanced through the state Legislature Wednesday.
The parent or guardian requirement was approved by the Senate Health Care Committee as part of a bill that would expand the type of medications pharmacists can administer.
The vaccine, which was authorized by federal regulators for emergency use, has not been given full FDA approval. The permission clause was designed to deal with parental concerns that their children would be able to become immunized on their own while the vaccine is still authorized for emergency use.
“Parents need to know what their children are going to be given,” Sen. Jim Burgin told WNCN. “Any kind of medication, I think the parent needs to be able to be involved in that.”
Currently only the Pfizer vaccine is available for children 12 to 17 years old. North Carolina law allows children to get the vaccine on their own “if they show the decisional capacity to do so,” the state Department of Health and Human Services said.
“I think the state ought to be doing everything we can to make it easier to get a vaccine, not harder,” Sen. Wiley Nickel 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.”
Minors need parental consent to get the vaccine in 41 states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A minor can consent for themselves at 16 in Rhode Island and South Carolina. In Oregon the age is 15; in Alabama it’s 14; and in Washington, D.C., it’s 11 years old.
The bill is in another Senate committee and could go to a vote next month, WNCN reported.
“I encourage people to get vaccines,” Burgin said. “I was talking to folks yesterday. We’ve seen an uptick in hospitalizations. 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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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