San Francisco Allows Children To ‘Consent’ To COVID Vaccines Without Parents Knowing

The City and County of San Francisco, California was issued an “Order of the Health Officer” that explicitly allows “minors to consent to receive the COVID-19 vaccine” and legally allows medical providers in the city to rely on that consent.

Order of the Health Officer No. C19-19 explicitly allows “minors to consent to receive the COVID-19 vaccine” and allows “vaccine providers in the city to rely on that consent” and the legal protections it affords. In the summary of the order, Acting Health Officer Susan Philip asserts that “Minors under the age of 18 are showing increasing numbers of infection” and notes that “California law does not generally allow such minors to consent to receipt of the vaccine” due to their age. Philip also notes that while many parents would consent to their child being vaccinated, “that is not true in all situations.” Philips declares that, “It remains vital” that “every person, including minors, who wants to receive the vaccine be given the opportunity.”

Philip then decrees, that “this Order does two things. First, it allows minors in the City and County of San Francisco who are 12 years old or older to consent to receive any vaccine against COVID-19 that has been authorized by the FDA (whether authorized on an emergency use basis or fully approved) for receipt by someone who is the age of that minor.” The Order of the Public Health Officer also “allows but does not require providers who are authorized by the State of California to administer an FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine to administer such a vaccine to any minor in the City who is 12 years old or older and who provides consent”.

Further in the Order, Philip acknowledges that “in some cases, it may be difficult to obtain the consent of a Minor’s parent or guardian.” Thus, “The intent of this Order is to allow minors 12 years of age and older who desire to receive, and are otherwise eligible to receive, a COVID-19 vaccine to consent to a COVID-19 vaccine, even if they lack the consent of a person who is legally authorized” to consent on behalf of the minor.

The Order does require medical professionals to make reasonable attempts to contact the legal guardian or parent of a child, but notes that “If consent from a Legally Responsible Adult cannot reasonably be obtained, then the Vaccine Provider may administer a COVID-19 Vaccine to the Minor upon receipt of a Minor’s consent.” The requirement for vaccine providers to “reasonably attempt” to obtain consent only requires them to ask “in person, in writing, or by telephone.” However, “If a Legally Responsible Adult objects to the Minor’s receipt of the COVID-19 Vaccine, then the Vaccine Provider may not rely on this Order to obtain the consent of the Minor”.

The order was issued on April 29, 2021, and will effectively remain in effect indefinitely, or “until the Health Officer rescinds, supersedes, or amends it in writing.”

Tom Pappert