A D.C. bill proposed on March 5 would allow minors of any age to get vaccination without the requirement of their parents’ consent, according to a report by WAMU.
Currently, parental consent is mandatory for a child under 18 years of age to get vaccinated, while D.C. laws give children above 12 access to a variety of medical procedures such as contraceptive and abortion services. Under the new bill, vaccinations will also be permitted for children of any age who request vaccination without the need of parental consent.
Councilmember March Cheh of Ward 3, who is behind the bill, told WAMU that her move was in response to a recent outbreak of measles across 11 states.
“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,” said Cheh.
The bill goes against the growing anti-vaccination movement in the country. The advocates of the movement believe that vaccines cause autism or pose other health risks, even though there’s no evidence to support this claim.
If the bill passes, a minor would be asked to show an “informed consent” which means that the physician would decide whether the minor can “comprehend the need for, the nature of, and any significant risks ordinarily inherent in the medical care.” According to Cheh, this would protect extremely young children from getting vaccines without the knowledge of their parents.
Before turning into law, the bill will have to pass a hearing and two Council votes.