Bill to ax policy giving teens access to vaccines without parental permission – Tennessee Lookout
A bill that effectively ends the so-called “Mature Minor” doctrine that has allowed some Tennessee teenagers to get vaccinated without parental permission was advanced to the legislature on Wednesday.
The law project, HB1380/SB111by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge and Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma is an outgrowth of the Republican reaction at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Tennessee’s former vaccine chief distributed a note to health care providers describing existing state policy on vaccinating adolescents without parental consent.
The memo angered GOP leaders and got former vaccines chief, pediatrician Dr. Michelle Fiscus, fired from her job at the state Department of Health. The controversial and public termination of Fiscus in 2021 is still the subject of ongoing litigation in federal court. A trial in that case is scheduled for May 16.
I sat on the health committee this year and heard many times that parents weren’t allowed to treat their kids for a lot of things this year, but now it’s all up to the parents.
– Representative Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville
The proposed new law would require the written consent of a parent or legal guardian before a health care provider can provide vaccines. It would prohibit state agents – such as the Department of Children’s Services – from providing vaccines to children in custody unless parental permission has been granted or parental rights are terminated.
The bill would also end a COVID-19-specific policy that allowed health care providers to administer vaccines without parental permission if a child was abused or neglected by a caregiver. parent or guardian.
“Children belong to their families,” Ragan said Thursday. “Not the state. Not DCS.
“Miners are restricted in a number of ways,” Ragan said. “Thirteen-year-olds can’t drive. 15-year-olds cannot enlist in the army. 17-year-olds can’t smoke or get tattoos. Honestly, the law recognizes that at different ages, judgment is not strong enough to understand consequences and long-term decisions.
The bill, Ragan noted, would give children the option to ask a judge for permission to get vaccinated.
Representative Bo Mitchell, a Democrat from Nashville, pushed back against the plan, noting that there are circumstances in which parents do not exercise their own responsibility to ensure their children receive vaccines.
He also suggested that fellow Republicans had a double standard.
“I sat on the health committee this year and heard many times that parents weren’t allowed to treat their children for a lot of things this year, but now it’s all up to the parents,” said Mitchell said.
Mitchell did not elaborate on those previous discussions, but the House health committee that heard the vaccine bill on Thursday also voted in favor of legislation limiting gender-affirming care to minors despite the objection from parents of transgender children.
“If a child has the common sense to make sure that he’s going to get the meningitis shot or he’s going to get the measles shot or the mumps shot, or he sees maybe millions of people die in the world because of a pandemic, and they have the good sense to go get vaccinated and they’re 14 or older…I don’t see how that’s bad for our society,” Mitchell said.
The bill will then be heard in the House Government Operations Committee; it has already advanced in the Senate and is expected to be passed by the Legislative Assembly this year.
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