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Teens In South Carolina Don’t Need Their Parents’ Permission To Get The COVID-19 Vaccine

16 and 17-year-olds are free to get vaccinated against the virus on their own terms.

As COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue to ramp up across the country, more and more states are expanding vaccine eligibility to include individuals as young as 16 years old. But not all states are handling teen vaccinations the same. For example, South Carolina teens can make COVID-19 vaccine appointments without parental consent while teens in a number of other states must obtain permission and be accompanied to vaccine appointments by a parent or legal guardian.

“Individuals 16 and older are able to consent to vaccination without parental permission,” South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Senior Deputy for Public Health Nick Davidson said in a virtual press conference Wednesday. “So they do not need to be accompanied to their appointment, to their clinic event by their parent or guardian. It’s already established in South Carolina Code of Laws. Although we still encourage 16 and 17-year-olds to talk to their parents, to talk to their family members, their guardians about their decision for vaccination but no, it is not a requirement for them to have parental consent.”

South Carolina isn’t the only place where teens are allowed to get vaccinated without parental consent. Last year, the Washington, D.C. Council approved legislation that effectively allows children 11 and older to obtain government-recommended vaccines without parental consent. According to The Washington Post, the law enables doctors to determine if a minor is capable of providing informed consent to receive vaccines their parents may object to due to religious or other reasons.

According to VaxTeen, a vaccination advocacy group founded by — and run for — teens, Delaware law also allows minors 12 and older to obtain vaccines like the COVID vaccine without parent's permission. Both Alaska and Idaho allow minors of any age to obtain healthcare services, including vaccinations without parental consent. Alabama allows for minors age 14 and older to access vaccination services — like the ongoing COVID vaccine rollout — without a parent’s consent. Similarly, Oregon teens age 15 and older do not need parental consent to receive healthcare services such as vaccinations.

A number of other states, however, do require that teens be accompanied to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment by a parent or legal guardian. These include Wisconsin, Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Ohio to name only a few.

Parents looking to secure a COVID-19 vaccine for their teen will want to check not only the requirements issued by their state’s health department, but also the requirements of the clinic, pharmacy, or event where their teen is slated to receive their vaccine. Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in individuals 16 and older, although trials regarding the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines are currently underway in children.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.