The D.C. Council approved a bill allowing minors to get vaccinated without parental consent.
The Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act would allow children to consent to their own vaccination despite parental disapproval if certain conditions are met. Those conditions are:
- the child is at least 11 years old
- a health provider determines they meet the standards of informed consent
- the vaccine is recommended for their age group by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which is part of the CDC
The bill was approved by the D.C. Council with a 12-1 vote, but to become law, the bill must pass a second vote by the council and be signed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser.
In practice, the law would work like this:
If a doctor determines that a minor is adequately informed and consenting to receive a government-recommended vaccination, then the minor can get vaccinated—even if their parents object.
"As introduced, this bill permits a minor of any age to consent to receive a vaccine where the vaccination is recommended by the United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. It also establishes that if a minor is able to comprehend the need for, the nature of, and any significant risks inherent in the medical care then informed consent is established. " — Bill Summary, Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act.
Then, the doctor would send the minor's vaccination record to their school instead of their parents, and the doctor would be paid directly from the minor's insurance company without parental involvement.
"A child needs to be protected against the dangers of things like measles, other diseases that cause death, and the community needs to be protected so that diseases that were once thought to be eliminated are not coming back," said Councilmember Mary Cheh, who introduced the bill.
Though the bill was framed in response to things like measles outbreaks, the bill takes on new meaning in the current pandemic and the prospect of a coronavirus vaccine. “One thing that we’ve learned from COVID, for example, is that policymakers, lawmakers, need to make science-driven decisions about public-health policy,” said councilmember and chair of the health committee Vincent C. Gray.
Councilmember Trayon White Sr. voted in opposition, saying "Parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children."
Parents might object to vaccines on religious grounds. The vaccine for HPV (which is sexually transmitted) is recommended for older children, but is opposed by some parents that object to their teenagers having sex.
What are your thoughts on the proposed legislation? Leave a comment!