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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 4, 2021 03:13 PM
From: Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti
To: All Senate members
Subject: Age of Consent for Vaccines
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to allow people age 14 or over to consent to CDC recommended immunizations as long as that consent is knowing and voluntary. Parents or guardians will not be able to override a minor’s consent for vaccination if the minor is age 14 or over.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease and currently prevents 2 to 3 million deaths yearly. An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage is improved. The WHO named vaccine hesitancy, defined as the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines, as one of the biggest global health threats of 2019.

In 2018, the United States saw the second-highest rate of measles cases since the disease was eliminated in 2000. In Pennsylvania, there are over 12,500 students in school whose parents opted out of the vaccinations required by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Many of these students may want to be vaccinated, but have no way of doing so without parental or guardian consent under Pennsylvania law.

The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule includes vaccines that have been proven to be safe, effective, and necessary to protect and promote public health. Because we know that these vaccines are safe and effective, minors should be able to consent to CDC recommended immunizations.

As the commonwealth works to effectively vaccinate Pennsylvanians for COVID-19, we must remember the importance of other immunizations as well, and work give minors the ability to access CDC recommended immunizations - including COVID-19.

Pennsylvania law already allows minors age 14 and over to consent to inpatient mental health treatment. This bill will largely mirror the mental health law to allow minors 14 and over to consent to CDC recommended immunizations.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to protect our commonwealth from preventable diseases and empower minors to contribute to their community.

Introduced as SB856