By Rachel Puryear
In the U.S., all persons 16 and older are now eligible to receive the vaccination against Covid-19. Needless to say, getting vaccinated offers numerous economic, social, and travel opportunities – in addition to protection against the virus – that have not been available until now since the start of the pandemic.
For 16 and 17 year olds whose parents won’t consent to their getting vaccinated, though; they do not yet get to enjoy these benefits. Unfortunately, if these kids want to nonetheless get vaccinated now, they have little to no legal recourse in most states.
In California, minors 12-17 can receive the vaccinations against the HPV virus and hepatitis B without parental consent. A minor must have parental consent to receive all other vaccinations. So a minor cannot receive a covid-19 vaccination in California without parental consent.
Laws governing parental control over minors’ medical decisions go back a long time. There are, of course, some good reasons for their existence. However, they do not take current anti-vaccination movements – and increasing adult rejection of scientific consensus – into account. As a result, children of anti-vaccination parents remain medically underserved, without adequate remedies.
That’s a bleak picture for children needing and desiring immunizations, whose parents won’t agree to it. There is a resource online for teens wanting to know more about vaccination, from a forming advocacy group for such teens. It’s called Vaxteen, and you can click here to go to their website. They have summaries of parental consent laws regarding vaccinations for minors for all 50 states in the U.S., as well as information about vaccines and tips for talking with parents. There is also information about supporting legislation to expand the ability of teens to receive vaccinations without their parents’ consent. This is not an immediate fix, but it’s a start. If you know a teen in this situation, you can share it with them.
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