Spartan Spear & Riordan Roundtable
Updated: Mar 21, 2022
This is the second in this year’s series of editorial collaborations between ICA Cristo Rey’s Spartan Press and Riordan High School’s Crusader.
Spartan Spear - By Keiko Casserly '23
On Jan. 20, in the midst of the Omicron spike in the United States, California State Senator Scott Weiner introduced Senate Bill 866, the Teens Choose Vaccines Act. SB 866 would provide minors 12 years and older the authority to get vaccinated, without parental consent, for all vaccinations that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes the much-discussed COVID-19 vaccine.
“You have parents who are blocking their kids from getting the vaccines or ... they may not be anti-vaccine but they just aren’t prioritizing it,” said Weiner, “Those kids deserve the right to protect themselves.”
Weiner was quick to receive support from many young people and health professionals. However, he was just as quick to receive opposition, especially from concerned parents. Although there may be exceptions, children between the ages of 12 and 14 are generally too young and underdeveloped to make possibly consequential decisions, as this is the period during which cognitive growth occurs.
At 12 years old, a child is only just beginning to use more complex thinking and perform logical operations. “13- and 14-year-olds…don’t [know too much information] about the vaccines other than [that] people are getting them and that if you want to go to school in-person you need them,” said Chip Garnett, a school district parental group leader in San Diego, in news reports.
Children of this age might impulsively decide to get vaccinated without proper consideration and may not be able to handle the responsibility of making their own medical decisions. Furthermore, should this bill be passed, it would completely remove a parent’s ability to make, or even be part of, this decision.
This can pose possible safety concerns, as many children younger than 15 most likely do not have full access to or knowledge of their medical records and history. Therefore, without a parent present, providers may administer a vaccine to a child without having complete knowledge of any allergies, underlying medical conditions, or side effects present in the family.
Like Weiner, I have sympathy for those whose parents' religious, political, or other beliefs prevent them from getting vaccinated. In these cases it can be understood why a young individual would want the authority to make this decision. However, I personally believe that 15 is the youngest age at which this responsibility should be given to a child, as they are more mentally developed and approaching “legal adulthood.”
Riordan Roundtable - By John McQuaid '22
On Jan. 21, California Senator Scott Weiner put forth Bill 866, called the Teens Choose Vaccines Act, which would give minors age 12 and up the ability to consent to becoming vaccinated without their parents’ permission.
Should this bill be passed, any person 12 or older would be able to independently choose to receive any vaccine currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA.
A bill like this is not unprecedented, as Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina, and Rhode Island already have similar laws that differ mainly in the minimum age requirement to make such decisions. Furthermore, allowing teenagers to take their vaccination status into their own hands will likely lead to many of roughly 900,000 unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds getting vaccinated.
More importantly, however, this bill prevents parents from preventing their teenagers from protecting themselves. When parents fail to protect their children, something must be done, especially when protecting their children is as easy as getting a single shot.
Arguments that this bill is meant to “remove parents from the equation,” (as Assemblyman James Gallagher claims) are simultaneously correct and ridiculous. Of course the bill is meant to remove parents from the equation--the parents it is removing from the are not doing their job to protect their children, who could end up seriously ill or even dead. Why would anyone not want their children to have a way to prevent that?
What this bill does is protect young people in California. That’s it. Go read the bill for yourself, and know that people who oppose it are opposing your ability to keep yourself and those around you safe.