With the recent outbreak of measles, a disease that was once eradicated in the United States, occurring in various states and in Canada, the topic of parents who are anti-vaccination has been once again thrust into the spotlight. While there are many parents who are still anti-vaccination, their children don't always feel the same way, and a new bill being introduced in New York may allow minors to be vaccinated even if it's against their parents’ wishes.
Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy have introduced a bill that will allow New York children over the age of 14 to receive immunizations even if it's without their parent's consent, as long as they are deemed mature enough to make the decision for themselves.
The bill references the World Health Organization listing vaccine hesitancy as a major threat to global health in January of 2019, as well as the measles epidemic that has hit New York and Washington already this year. And while they note that measles may have a low fatality rate for those who are otherwise generally healthy, the disease can be deadly for those who are immunocompromised or babies who are too young to be vaccinated.
I'm introducing a bill with Sen. @LizKrueger that allows teens who are at least 14 years of age to receive #vaccinations without parental consent. We are on the cusp of a public health with the recent number of preventable disease outbreaks. https://t.co/NQtlYRIuOM— Assemblymember Patricia Fahy (@PatriciaFahy109) March 8, 2019
"Older teenagers, in consultation with their healthcare providers, should have the freedom to make their own decisions about whether or not to protect themselves from long-term health risks by getting vaccinated," Fahy said in a statement, USA Today reports.
Fahy announced the proposed bill on Twitter, writing; "Encouraging teens to take an active role in their
#healthcare empowers our youth to think critically about information spread on social media & to control their own educational future. Teens should be able to make informed choices in consultation with their doctor. #VaccinesWork"
Encouraging teens to take an active role in their #healthcare empowers our youth to think critically about information spread on social media & to control their own educational future. Teens should be able to make informed choices in consultation with their doctor. #VaccinesWork— Assemblymember Patricia Fahy (@PatriciaFahy109) March 8, 2019
Although the bill has been introduced, Fahy told ABC News that "it's going to take a couple of weeks" to move it through the proper channels.
"Because there has been such a strong anti-vaccination constituency, this will be an uphill battle," she said. The news station also reports that the NY chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics commented on the bill in a memo, explaining that children are often more able to differentiate fact from fiction online. "In this instance, which is specific to immunization, young people are often more conscious about the misinformation on the internet and can in many cases disagree with parents who have bought into unfounded and dangerous anti-immunization diatribes and pseudo-science," the memo states. "These young people have a right to protect themselves from diseases that can easily be prevented by immunizations."
Fahy stated that Ethan Lindenberger, the 18-year-old who made news for getting vaccinated despite his own mother's anti-vaccination stance served as inspiration for the bill. Lindenberger spoke to Congress recently about his decision to vaccinate himself despite his mother's beliefs
"It was catching that [testimony that] drew our awareness to the issue," Fahy said.
I’m happy to share that I’ll be testifying at a hearing for the committee of health, education labor, and pensions about the importance of vaccinations! Check out the video here!https://t.co/sPM12poJVi— Ethan J. Lindenberger (@ethan_Joesph16) March 3, 2019
Measles, which was eradicated in 2000 in the United States, is now seeing epidemics in major cities in the US. A 6-year-old boy in Oregon was recently diagnosed with Tetanus after cutting his forehead, resulting in a hospital stay that produced a bill of almost $1 million. Diseases that were once eradicated thanks to vaccines are now being reintroduced to the general population thanks to so many parents who are choosing not to vaccinate their kids.
Hopefully, this new bill will allow these children to take their health into their own hands even if their parents don't agree.
Adults who were vaccinated as children should note they may be in need of a MMR booster as well, as many don't realize they may no longer be immune. If you're concerned you may need a booster, schedule an appointment with your family doctor to be sure.