As a worrying number of adults are refusing to vaccinate their children, a new bill proposes kids can get vaccinated without parental consent.
In Washington D.C., the current law states anyone under the age of 18 must have consent before getting a vaccination, but earlier this week council member Mary Cheh introduced the bill which would allow any minor in the city to have a vaccination if they want one, without their parents’ input.
The movement comes after measles outbreaks were reported across 11 states, leaving unvaccinated residents vulnerable, often because of their parents’ beliefs the injections could result in autism or be the cause of other health risks.
D.C. currently requires children entering the school system to be vaccinated against a range of diseases, however parents are allowed to request a medical or religious exemption to the required vaccines.
We’re a jurisdiction where we have tourists, we’re a pass-through for other people. The prospect of coming into contact with someone who is not vaccinated is significant, I think.
Even if this helps one child get vaccinated, that’s enough for me.
The city’s existing law states that minors over the age of 12 can consent to a range of medical procedures and care, including contraceptive services, mental health, prenatal care, and abortions; Cheh’s bill would extend that to vaccinations, while also broadening the definition of ‘minor’ to include a child ‘of any age.’
In order to get a vaccination, the minor would have to show ‘informed consent’, meaning a physician would determine whether they have the ability to ‘comprehend the need for, the nature of, and any significant risks ordinarily inherent in the medical care.’
The stipulations would protect against extremely young children getting vaccinated without their parents knowing about it.
I’m not worried about five-year-olds wandering into doctors’ office and getting vaccines.
The move would put the city on a par with Washington state for the age of self-consent. In Washington, any minor can get a vaccine provided their doctor finds them to be ‘mature.’
Before the proposed changes could become law, Cheh’s bill must pass a hearing and two council votes.
There’s certainly a need for law changes like this, as in recent months the children of anti-vaxxers have been turning to the internet for help on how to get vaccinated without their parents’ consent.
Parents shouldn’t be able to put their children’s lives at risk, especially if the child wants to be vaccinated.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.