COVID-19 vaccine parental consent – do teens need it before Pfizer vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccine parental consent

This article about COVID-19 vaccine parental consent was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On May 10, 2021, the FDA authorized Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 for emergency use in teens aged 12-15. Even before that, the vaccine was authorized in teens 16 and up. This raises a question that has been coming up occasionally – if teens in this age group want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but their parents object, can they do it without parental consent? The short answer is that it depends. 

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Connecticut repeals vaccine religious exemption to school mandates

Connecticut repeals vaccine religious exemption

This article, the Connecticut legislature repeals the vaccine religious exemption for school mandates, was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On April 27, 2021, the Connecticut legislature passed HB6423, a bill that repeals the religious exemption to Connecticut’s school vaccine mandate. Connecticut never had a personal belief exemption, so if the Governor signed it – and he indicated he will – the only exemption available in Connecticut will be a medical one. 

That said, as part of the compromises to pass the bill, children currently in school, from kindergarten on, were grandfathered – allowed to keep the exemption.

This post addresses, together, three things:

  • First, the process to pass a bill in most states is hard and arduous, and most bills fail. 
  • Second, the anti-vaccine movement fought aggressively against the bill, and the fight was national.
  • And third, what the bill does.
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European Court of Human Rights upholds compulsory vaccination laws

compulsory vaccination laws

This article the European Court of Human Rights upholding compulsory vaccination laws was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On April 8, 2021 the European Court of Human Rights, in a 16:1 decision, held that the Czech’s Republic vaccine mandate did not violate article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the “right to respect for private life”, because the mandate is within the range of reasonable options available to a country to protect the important interests of the general health and children’s best interests, and its interference with individual rights is proportional. 

This is an important decision, since it gives states leeway to enact mandatory vaccination schemes, within certain limits. The quotes here are from the summary, which, from my skimming of the full decision, captures the majority’s decision well. 

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Dr. Kenneth P Stoller requests stay of punishment for fake vaccine exemptions – judge says no

Kenneth P Stoller

This article about Dr. Kenneth P Stoller and his attempt to block the revocation of his California license was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On March 17, 2021, a California superior court judge rejected a request from Dr. Kenneth P Stoller to stay the Medical Board of California’s decision to revoke his license for writing fake medical exemptions (the judge issued a corrected decision on March 19, but the essence was the same).

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Legal challenges to stricter school vaccine mandates rejected by NY court

school vaccine mandates

This article challenges to stricter school vaccine mandates was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On December 3, 2019, Judge Denise Hartman, from the New York Supreme Court in Albany (see Note 1), rejected a claim challenging the removal of the religious exemption from school vaccine mandates.

Judge Hartman has previously, in a careful decision upheld on appeal, rejected plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction on stricter school vaccine mandates. In this decision, she provided a well-reasoned, thoughtful analysis of the constitutional issues.

Judge Hartman found that the change in the law in New York was based on public health, not hostility to religion, and fits well within the extensive precedent upholding mandates without requiring a religious exemption.

This lawsuit was the strongest, best-argued challenge to the New York law on religious freedom grounds. Unless plaintiffs appeal, this is likely the end for any serious chance opponents had at overturning the law, and even on appeal, their chances are likely low.

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COVID-19 vaccine mandate challenge from a corrections officer

COVID-19 vaccine mandae

This article about a challenge to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

In late February, a lawsuit challenging an employment mandate, that county officers in New Mexico receive a COVID-19 vaccine, was filed in a district federal court. Although there is some uncertainty on whether an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) vaccine mandate is legal, this lawsuit is not well-founded, and the county’s response very well-argued. Hopefully, the court will reject this claim.

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JNJ COVID-19 vaccine trial – FDA rejects another ICAN petition

JNJ vaccine clinical trial

This article about the Informed Consent Action Network’s petition to halt the JNJ COVID-19 vaccine trial was written by Viridiana Ordonez, a J.D. candidate at the University of California, Hastings College of Law

This is a summary of the FDA’s response to a citizen petition dated October 16, 2020, filed on behalf of the petitioner, Del Bigtree’s Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), relating to the clinical trial of Ad26.COV2S, a Janssen Biotech, Inc. (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, JNJ) COVID-19 vaccine.

Like a previous ICAN petition about COVID-19 vaccine trials, the FDA denied the petition in its entirety. FDA concluded that the vaccine trials were thorough, vaccine safety was carefully tested and monitored, and ICAN’s requests are not well-founded. 

This summary is divided into three parts: (1) ICAN’s specific requests; (2) FDA’s description of the vaccine process and safety; and (3) FDA’s response to six specific requests. 

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Employer vaccine mandates for COVID-19 – a legal and ethical discussion

pexels-photo-5922067.jpeg

A recent article about employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates, by Professors Dorit Rubinstein Reiss and Arthur Caplan, examined its legal and ethical issues. Their thought-provoking analysis should be part of our discussions about the new vaccines.

I think that employer vaccine mandates, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, are something that should be considered everywhere. However, employer mandates are very controversial, with ten states already considering prohibitions to them.

I am going to excerpt some of their points in the article while adding my own thoughts on the topic. I think this is worthy of a wide discussion.

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COVID-19 vaccine trials – FDA rejects ICAN petition to stop the trials

COVID-19 vaccine trials

This article about the Informed Consent Action Network’s petition to halt COVID-19 vaccine trials was written by Viridiana Ordonez, a J.D. candidate at the University of California, Hastings College of Law

This article summarizes the FDA’s response to Del Bigtree’s ICAN’s (petitioner) request regarding the Phase III trials for the COVID-19 vaccine.  The summary is divided into three parts:

  1. Petitioner’s Request;
  2. FDA’s description of vaccine process; and
  3. FDA’s response to the petition.


ICAN’s request for COVID-19 vaccine trials

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COVID-19 vaccines employer mandates – legal basics for and against

COVID-19 vaccines employer mandates

This article about COVID-19 vaccines employer mandates was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

The goal of this post is to give a short overview of the law surrounding employer mandates for COVID-19 vaccines. Two caveats. First, this post is not taking a position on whether a mandate is a good or bad idea for a specific employer: it is just setting out the law. Second, this post is focused on employers choosing to require vaccines, not states.

As preliminary comments, I want to remind readers that we do not actually know whether COVID-19 vaccines will dramatically reduce transmission. We know they are very effective at protecting recipients (and very safe), and we have reasonable grounds to expect they will reduce transmission somewhat, but we do not yet know to what extent. 

A workplace or employer mandate is, in part, justified by protecting the workforce – employers are expected, sometimes required, to minimize risks to their workers, and may be liable for work-related harms through workers’ compensation, but mandates are often justified by the protection of others – in this case, co-workers and customers – and if the vaccines do not reduce transmission, there is less justification.

We also do not yet know how long the COVID-19 vaccines’ immunity will last, and whether there are very rare side effects that have not yet been discovered. So this discussion has some uncertainty built-in. That uncertainty, however, would not directly change much of the legal framework described below.

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