The American Medical Association (AMA) has voted on June 10, 2019 to give “mature” children the power to consent to vaccinations and override the wishes of their parents if they choose. According to Sarp Aksel, MD, who represents the AMA in New York, “Minors who have demonstrated capacity and who are able to provide informed consent should be able to receive vaccinations regardless of the flawed beliefs of their guardians.”1 2
The resolution by the AMA was voted on at the organization’s 2019 annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois earlier this week. The measure itself carries no binding legal authority. It is a policy recommendation, and it is aimed at influencing state legislators throughout the United States to introduce legislation and pass laws reflecting the AMA’s policy.
As reporter Kate Raines wrote in a recent article in The Vaccine Reaction:
As it applies to vaccination, several states already use the “mature minor” doctrine to give minors the right to make vaccines decisions and other decisions about medical interventions without parental knowledge or consent.3
“Mature minor” laws are already in place in Alaska, Arkansas, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. A bill was introduced earlier this year in New York that would permit children 14 years of age and older to be vaccinated without the permission of their parents.3
AMA board member Bobby Mukkamala, MD said, “Allowing mature minors to provide informed consent to vaccinations will ensure these patients can access this type of preventive care.” Neither Dr. Mukkamala nor the AMA defined what they mean by “mature” children or specified who should have the authority to make that determination.1 2
Kevin Reilly, MD of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) noted that, despite the AMA resolution allowing minor children to ignore parental consent rights and get vaccinated if they wish, parents would still be required to pay for the vaccinations. He also pointed out the danger the new AMA policy poses in the form of “chipping away at parental rights.”1
1 Blanchard S. Children should have the right to tell doctors to vaccinate them if parents have ‘flawed’ anti-vaxx beliefs, rules American Medical Association as US measles cases hit 17-year high. Daily Mail June 12, 2019.
2 Anderson J. American Medical Association: Let minors override parents’ vaccination refusal. Chicago Tribune June 11, 2019.
3 Raines K. New York Bill Would Strip Parental Consent for Vaccinating Children. The Vaccine Reaction Mar. 28, 2019.