Pediatrics group backs bill to allow minors to seek vaccines

ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics expressed support Tuesday for state legislation that would allow minors to get vaccinated without parental consent.

Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, of Albany, and Sen. Liz Krueger, of Manhattan, recently introduced a bill that would authorize anyone 14 or older to get immunizations even if their parents object. The two Democrats say too many parents believe unsupported online claims that vaccines are unsafe.

The three New York chapters of the academy support the bill, saying young people often are better at discerning false information on the internet.

“New York has long recognized that for decision making in health care, in terms of reproductive health care, mental health, substance abuse and emergency services, often adolescents and young adults have a clearer grasp of what kinds of health care decisions make the most sense for them,” they said in a statement Tuesday.

The chapters, representing about 5,000 pediatricians statewide, also said: “These young people have a right to protect themselves from diseases that can easily be prevented by immunizations.”

The New York Times reported the legislation’s introduction comes amid reported measles outbreaks among Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County. In such communities, vaccination rates can typically lag well behind the rates in other places.

Fahy told the Times that too many people have become “complacent” regarding vaccinations.

“It’s not just the individual who is at risk when they are not immunized,” she said. “You are putting other people at risk.”

The New York legislation was introduced three days after an Ohio teen testified before Congress about how he defied his mother’s anti-vaccine beliefs that he believed were fueled by online conspiracy theories. Ethan Lindenberger, who told federal lawmakers that he got his shots when he turned 18, said more must be done to combat fraudulent claims about vaccine safety.

Multiple studies have debunked claims that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations increase the risk for autism.

Several states, including Oregon and South Carolina, allow minors to ask for vaccinations without parental approval. Some also require minors to be evaluated to determine if they’re mature enough to make that decision. The New York bill wouldn’t require those types of evaluations.

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