Popular Facebook post distorts San Francisco policy on minors receiving COVID-19 vaccine
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- Misleading posts on Facebook and Twitter indicate minors in San Francisco consent to COVID-19 vaccines without their parents’ permission. San Francisco has issued a health ordinance allowing emancipated minors and those considered “self-sufficient” to consent to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
- San Francisco has issued additional guidance for healthcare providers administering COVID-19 vaccines to minors. The guidelines state that health care providers are required to do everything possible to obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian before giving a vaccine.
Since the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for emergency use for minors 12 years of age and older, more people have started receiving their first dose. In California, more than half of the population has received their first dose vaccine against COVID-19. In San Francisco, it’s 82%.
But with the announcement of more people eligible to get vaccinated, there is more misinformation about vaccines.
Two weeks after the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use for the new age group, a Facebook Publish claimed that minors in San Francisco could be vaccinated against COVID-19 without their parents’ consent. This post went viral, garnering more than 10,000 combined shares, comments and reactions on Facebook.
A Publish of The Hodgetwin, a duo of conservative commentators, was reported on May 27 as part of Facebook’s efforts to tackle fake news and disinformation. (Learn more about our Partnership with Facebook.)
In bold, the message reads “San Francisco allowing children to ‘consent’ to the Covid vaccine without parental approval. ”
At the bottom of the post is an excerpt from a county in San Francisco health order which attempts to justify the claim that minors receive vaccines without parental consent. However, the Facebook post and others on Twitter fail to point out that the sanitary order was intended for emancipated California minors or those who can prove they are self-sufficient.
In order to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible, the San Francisco Department of Public Health said the health order was issued in anticipation of the FDA’s decision to administer Pfizer vaccines to the newly eligible group.
A few weeks later, the SFDPH published additional tips for city and county health care providers administering vaccines to minors at mass vaccination sites The guidelines stated that because emancipated and autonomous minors “are not the norm and therefore relatively rare”, they may consent to medical treatment without the approval of a parent or legal guardian.
The guidelines also state that affiliated immunization providers in San Francisco should “make reasonable attempts to verify a minor’s claim of self-reliance or emancipation status,” such as the signed documentation. A minor is considered “self-sufficient” if he is at least 15 years old, manages his finances and lives separately from his parents.
If a minor is not emancipated or considered self-sufficient, “health care providers should reasonably attempt to notify a parent or guardian to consent to that minor’s medical care and allow that person to object. administration of this minor. [vaccine]”, as directed.
Even with the health decree, it is not so easy for minors to consent to the vaccine on their own behalf. In an email, the SFDPH said that “generally the consent of parents or legal guardian is required for COVID-19 vaccinations of minors.” The California Department of Public Health has said the same and lists the acceptable forms of consent for “persons under 18”, such as being accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, a signed consent form before the appointment, or some kind of verbal consent over the phone.
Medical experts agree that vaccinating minors has always been part of the vaccine rollout plan, but knowing a person’s medical history is just as important. Specifically for emancipated minors consenting in their own name.
“There are gray areas here where it’s not easy to make these decisions,” said Lee Riley, professor of infectious diseases at UC Berkeley.
One of these gray areas is myocarditis. In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an increase in the number of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, in adolescents after their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. However, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices concluded that the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine for individuals outweigh the risks of myocarditis.
For this reason, Riley agrees that healthcare providers who administer the vaccine to minors should do everything possible to understand the minor’s medical history.
When it comes to vaccine side effects, “the story is not completely over with children and safety and we need to watch that and not do any harm,” said Monica Gandhi, American physician and professor of medicine. at the University of California at San Francisco.
Gandhi says that due to the CDC’s lack of data on vaccine side effects in children, healthcare providers who administer the vaccines need to be very careful.
Social media posts claimed minors can get vaccinated without parental consent in San Francisco. The county public health department has issued a health order in anticipation of FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use for emancipated or “self-sufficient” minors 12 years of age and older.
Weeks after the health ordinance, the SFDPH said that exemption for minors from consenting without parental approval “is not the norm and therefore relatively rare.”
Medical experts agree with the City and County of San Francisco that healthcare providers should do everything possible to obtain consent from a parent or legal guardian before administering a vaccine to a minor.
We assess this claim as primarily false.
Twitter Publish, May 25, 2021
Facebook Publish, May 27, 2021
Interview with Dr Lee Riley, June 1, 2021
Interview with Dr Monica Gandhi, June 3, 2021
Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention, Myocarditis and pericarditis after receiving COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in adolescents and young adults, May 28, 2021
Atlantic, Doctors are intrigued by heart inflammation in young people and those vaccinated, July 1, 2021
Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention, Use of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine after reports of myocarditis among vaccine recipients, July 6, 2021
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