Children And Vaccines (COVID-19 And Others): Who Decides?

Everyone in North Carolina aged 12 and over can now receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services created an online vaccine locater to assist the public with scheduling appointments.  The vaccines are free and the vaccination sites will not ask for ID, proof of insurance, or any information about immigration status. 

Three are available:

  1. Pfizer:  a two-dose vaccine, which has been authorized for people aged 12 and over. 
  2. Moderna:  a two-dose vaccine, which has been authorized for people aged 18 and over. 
  3. Johnson & Johnson:  a one-dose vaccine, which has been authorized for people aged 18 and over. 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services also created a COVID-19 Vaccine Update site that offers in-depth information and advice.  That site is updated regularly. 

Does a Child Need Parental Consent for the COVID-19 Vaccine?

No, minor children do not need their parent’s consent to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Minors have the authority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if a provider finds that they have decisional capacity, which means the provider considers them capable of understanding and making choices about their health.   

Does a Child Need Parental Consent for Other Vaccines? 

No.  NC General Statute 90-21.5 provides minor children the legal authority to receive medical treatment (including vaccines) for any condition the Commission for Public Health deems a reportable communicable disease, including COVID-19. 

Can Parents Exempt their Child from Vaccinations?

While there are no laws yet regarding minors and the COVID-19 vaccine, North Carolina has laws mandating other vaccines.  Children who do not receive those vaccines may not attend schools, camps, and childcare facilities. 

NC General Statute 130A-157, however, allows parents (or legal guardians) to exempt their child from vaccinations for religious reasons.  Parents wishing to request this exemption must issue a written statement to any schools, childcare facilities,  or camps their children attend. 

Medical Exemptions

If a North Carolina physician believes a vaccine would harm a child, NC General Statute 130A-156 allows that physician to complete a Department of Health and Human Services form requesting exemption. 

Personal Objections

The North Carolina Administrative Code does not recognize personal or philosophical vaccine exceptions.  

What if Divorced Parents Disagree on Vaccines?

What happens when separated or divorced parents cannot agree on vaccination decisions (or medical care in general)?

A parent with sole custody has the final say.  The non-custodial parent could petition the court to change custody and/or enforce a vaccination decision.   

Parents who share custody might also have to petition the court or go to mediation or arbitration.

Whether your children should receive vaccines was always an important decision.  Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is here, it’s more important than ever.  If you are involved in a custody matter and are having concerns over your child’s vaccines, if you are having any issues with a child custody order and medical treatment, or if you need to discuss exemptions, you should speak right away to an experienced, dedicated attorney who understands and is compassionate about such situations.  Thomas D. Baumgardner is that attorney.   He’s won various matters, including complex cases and those that have gone onto the state supreme court.   He passionately pursues justice for his clients.  Contact him at (704) 870-4779 or email him at to learn more about the legal services he provides and to book an appointment.