California lawyer: Grassroots effort nixed bill to allow teens to get COVID shot without parents' OK

The Democrat state senator who sponsored the bill pulled it from getting a final vote when it became clear he was 41 votes short.

Updated: October 5, 2022 - 8:48pm

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California civil rights attorney Nicole Pearson says the effort to defeat a Democrat-sponsored state bill that if passed would have allowed teens to get a COVID-19 vaccine without parental permission was a sprawling, grassroots effort that included everyone from parents to teacher to local government officials. 

"This was a statewide effort," Pearson said Tuesday on the "Just the News, No Noise" TV show. "It took a coalition of many organizations, not just lawyers. We're talking about grassroots, activists, educational leaders, and working with representatives and local governments."

The measure, formally known as Senate Bill 866, was sponsored by Sen. Scott Weiner, whose district includes San Francisco and parts of San Mateo County.

Weiner pulled the pull from getting a final vote last month, in the closing days of the state's most recent legislative session, when it became clear he didn't have enough votes for passage. 

“While the votes are very close, we are several votes short of 41, and we don’t see a viable path for those final few votes," he said. "Months of harassment and misinformation – including death threats against me and teen advocates – by a small but highly vocal and organized minority of anti-vaxxers have taken their toll."

A California resident last month was found guilty of threatening Weiner's life apparently over the bill.

If the bill had passed, residents as young as 15 would have been allowed to get vaccinated, including against COVID-19, without parent permission. The measure originally called for those as young as 12 to get vaccinated without permission but was changed in the face of strong opposition

Democrats who opposed the bill were concerned about excluding parents from making medical decisions for their children. 

Pearson on Tuesday also offered advice on citizen on how to defeat such bills.

"You need to start looking at your local governments, your local communities and those boards of supervisors," she said.