Frankel unveils legislation to protect teen health, require vital vaccine info

Proposals will help make children and everyone else safer from infectious disease

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 30 – Surrounded by fellow lawmakers, medical professionals and parents, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, unveiled legislation that would give teens power over their own healthcare decisions and require vaccine-hesitant parents to receive vaccine resources and information on a yearly basis.

Frankel’s first proposal, H.B. 1818, would allow people 14 or older to consent to immunizations recommended by the United States Advisory Committee. Parents or guardians wouldn’t be able to override this decision. Current state law already allows that same age group to consent to inpatient mental health treatment and sexual health treatment. This bill would largely mirror that current law.

“A child does not become an adult on the night of their 18th birthday. Teenagers are making choices every day that could impact their health for years to come,” Frankel said. “Decisions over potentially life-saving preventative care should be no different. This is not a radical piece of legislation, it’s a very commonsense public health measure, and it would save lives.”

If passed, Pennsylvania would join 20 other states that empower minors to consent to vaccines. State Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, D-Delaware, first recognized the need for expanded consent legislation and introduced a companion bill in the state Senate.

“This bill will teach young people that their body is theirs to control and empower them to make informed decisions about their bodies. Teaching bodily autonomy from a young age is important to our development, and a low-impact medical decision such as vaccines is the perfect place to practice that,” Cappelletti said. “By lowering the age of consent for age-appropriate, CDC-recommended vaccinations, we accomplish multiple goals: teaching young people to have conversations with medical professionals, improving and protecting the public health of Pennsylvania and aligning our policy with many other states.”

The second bill Frankel introduced today, H.B. 1820, would require parents seeking a religious or philosophical exemption to school vaccine requirements to get an annual medical consultation to stay up to date on threats to children’s health and the community from communicable diseases.

“Currently, it’s easier to get an exemption from immunization than it is to actually get the shot and protect a child from preventable diseases,” Frankel said. “My legislation would correct that imbalance and help educate parents at the same time.”

House Bills 1818 and 1820 will likely be referred to the House Health Committee, where Frankel serves as the Democratic chairman.