The D.C. Council has approved legislation that would allow children as young as 11 the option to get government-recommended vaccines without parental consent.
The Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act, authored by Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), includes various measures to aid confidentiality and directs health care providers to seek reimbursement straight from insurers and doctors to submit an immunization record directly to the young patient’s school instead of the parent, WTOP reported.
The bill allows physicians to serve in the role of “loco parentis” or in place of the parent.
The council passed the bill with a 12-1 vote, with Trayon White (D-Ward 8) dissenting.
Despite the bill’s current relevance amid the coronavirus pandemic and the debate over whether to take a vaccine once it becomes available, Cheh’s legislation actually was introduced in March 2019 during a global measles outbreak, WTOP reported.
During the Tuesday council session, Cheh emphasized children needing protections against deadly diseases like the measles and the community’s need to be protected against illnesses once thought to be dormant.
However, White said the bill circumvents parental decisions and children aren’t capable of making major health decisions.
“Parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children,” he said, WTOP reported.
However, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said the public interest supersedes parenting concerns, citing the ongoing pandemic.
“That’s how important public health is,” Mendelson said, WTOP reported. “There’s a very compelling state interest there.”
As of Wednesday, D.C. had 16,498 coronavirus cases and 642 related deaths, according to city health department statistics.