Young people would need parental permission now before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina legislation approved unanimously Tuesday by the state Senate.
The bill, which now must return to the House for consideration, contains a parent or guardian requirement for vaccines approved by federal regulators for emergency use, such as the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It’s currently the only coronavirus vaccine available to children as young as 12.
North Carolina law currently allows those under 18 to make the vaccine decision on their own “if they show the decisional capacity to do so,” according to the state Department of Health Human Services.
DHHS says it’s expected most teens would receive parental consent. But legislators wanted more assurances that parents will have the say over whether their child gets an immunization still authorized for emergency use.
The consent provision is contained within a bill that also would expand the types of medications immunizing pharmacists can administer.
The state health director would issue standing orders for immunizing pharmacists to administer more medications to customers without an additional doctor’s prescription. Those medications would include certain nicotine smoking cessation programs, some oral contraceptives or those delivered through a skin patch, and prenatal vitamins.
This expansion would allow more access to health care in rural and smaller counties that lack physicians and OB-GYNs, said Sen. Jim Burgin, a Johnston County Republican shepherding the bill.