16-, 17-year-olds will need parental consent to get vaccinated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Children 16 and 17 are among the millions of adults under age 40 who will able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Florida beginning next week. But those under 18 must go to a site that provides the Pfizer shots as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently only authorized for people 18 and up. They also must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to give permission.

All the sites run by the state or federal government -- including Gateway Mall and Regency Square -- are currently giving the Pfizer vaccines on Monday. Gateway switches to Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday, but Regency is expected to continue offering Pfizer.

WHERE, HOW TO GET A SHOT: Vaccination availability in Northeast Florida

Although 16- and 17-year-olds are usually juniors or seniors in high school, they are legally minors and in most medical situations, parent authority outweighs a minor’s preference under Florida law. The state requires the children to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to sign a consent form. (Click here for a printable version of the form)

Different states have made different decisions on parental consent to get vaccines. Seven states allow minors of varying minimum ages to make all of their own health care decisions, including those concerning vaccines, the Miami Herald reported.

In December, Washington D.C. passed a law that allows children as young as 11 to make decisions for themselves about getting vaccinated, with or without parental consent, so long as a doctor deems the child able to comprehend the benefits and risks of getting a vaccine.

While American Medical Association and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine strongly support laws permitting older minors to self-consent to vaccinations, teenagers in Florida and most other states with “anti-vax” parents will have to wait until their 18th birthday to the COVID-19 shot.

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