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Vaccination of Kids Without Parents’ Consent in DC Blocked by Judge


A federal judge has temporarily banned the District of Columbia from enforcing a law that permits minors to get vaccinated without parental consent.

The bill — the Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act (MCA) — which passed the DC Council two years ago, paved the way for minors of 11 years of age and older to receive vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) without their parents’ approval or knowledge, as long as they are capable of meeting the informed consent standard.

The child must be assessed by a doctor to confirm that they are able to “comprehend the need for, the nature of, and any significant risks ordinarily inherent in the medical care,” as per the law.

Last year, several parents in DC filed two separate lawsuits against the legislation. 

Judge Trevor McFadden of the US District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction in the cases, and denied the Districts’ motions to dismiss the preemption and the free exercise claims brought by the plaintiffs.

In the lawsuits, the plaintiffs argue that the MCA violates the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), conflicts with the Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause, and violates their fundamental right to parent. 

“Vaccines are ‘one of the greatest achievements’ of public health in the 20th century,” said McFadden in his decision. “So Congress decided to step in to protect vaccine manufacturers with the NCVIA. States and the District are free to encourage individuals—including children— to get vaccines. But they cannot transgress on the Program Congress created. And they cannot trample on the Constitution.”

In the meantime, a number of health organizations, including the DC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, filed an amicus brief in support of the District’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims and bid for a preliminary injunction.

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