North Carolina children would need parental permission before they could receive COVID-19 vaccines approved by federal regulators for emergency use in legislation that advanced through a Senate committee on Wednesday.
The parent or guardian requirement is contained in a bill approved by the Senate Health Care Committee that also would expand the types of medications immunizing pharmacists can administer.
The permission is designed to address concerns by some parents and legislators that young people could get a new COVID-19 immunization on their own while it is still authorized for emergency use, said Sen. Jim Burgin, a Harnett County Republican.
Currently, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available to children from 12 to 17.
North Carolina law currently allows these children to make the decision on their own, "if they show the decisional capacity to do so," according to the N.C. Department of Health Human Services.
The bill, now heading to another Senate committee, also would direct the state health director to issue standing orders for immunizing pharmacists to administer more medications to customers without an additional doctor's prescription.
Those medications would include certain nicotine smoking cessation programs, some oral contraceptives or those delivered through a skin patch, and prenatal vitamins. The immunizing pharmacists would have to maintain records of these dispensations and make them available to patients and their doctors.