Culture

One Reader Asked The Washington Post Advice Column: “Should I Get My Anti-Vax Friends’ Baby Vaccinated Without Telling Them?”

By Nicole Dominique
·  3 min read
Baby Crying Shutterstock

One reader asked a Washington Post columnist a very controversial question: “Should I get my anti-vax friends’ baby vaccinated without telling them?”

I love the advice columns on news websites and blogs. I enjoy reading people’s questions and answers because I get to see their logic and their views on certain subjects. This one, however, was incredibly concerning to me. To think that a random person is genuinely asking for advice on whether or not they should vaccinate someone else’s baby without the parents’ consent is very alarming.

Luckily, the Washington Post columnist agrees with me, stating that vaccinating someone's children without their parent's consent is a crime that shouldn't be committed. But the proposed question is essentially a reflection of where certain groups stand ideologically – though I sincerely hope the majority doesn’t hold extreme views like this. Then again, there was a bill proposed in California in January 2022 that would have enabled teens 15 and older to get vaccinated without a guardian’s consent. Originally, the bill included minors as young as 12, but it was quickly met with backlash.

The bill titled "SB 866" was introduced by San Francisco Democratic Senator Scott Wiener. Unsurprisingly, Wiener was disappointed when the bill fell short of the 41 votes that were needed to pass. “Sadly, months of harassment and misinformation – including death threats against me and teen advocates – by a small but highly vocal and organized minority of anti-vaxxers have taken their toll,” he said. “The health of young people will suffer as a result. SB 866 did nothing more than empower young people to protect their own health, even if their parents have been brain-washed by anti-vax propaganda or are abusive or neglectful.” 

It seems the individuals who were labeled as “conspiracy theorists” for claiming the government wants to vaccinate children without parental consent were right. In 2021, a journal published by pediatricians wrote that a minor’s ability to consent is “highly beneficial” and “low risk.” The journal favors allowing minors as young as 14 to receive Covid-19 vaccinations without parental consent. According to pediatricians, by the age of 14 years old, a minor's reasoning begins to match an adult’s decision-making process. “Around this age, adolescents develop cognitive processes – including a metacognitive understanding of decision-making, problem-solving skills, and an ability to commit to choices – that foster competent decisions,” the paper writes.

I remember being 14. I remember making silly decisions due to my lack of experience and naiveté. I was only a freshman in high school, and I was still learning so much about myself and life. I never read about politics and medicine, and I had a vague understanding of vaccines. I just knew they helped with viruses – but I didn’t know about their ingredients, risks, and other side effects. Yet, while the majority of states in the U.S. require parental consent for minors to get vaccinated, there are a few states that have enabled young teenagers to receive it regardless. Oregon, for example, allows adolescents from the ages of 15 and over to receive a vaccine without a guardian. The same goes for South Carolina, where teens aged 16 and 17 can freely get inoculated by choice. Politicians pushing for minors to get vaccines without consent should raise red flags. With news reports of myocarditis rising in children, teenagers may unknowingly put themselves at risk of receiving heart problems.

Closing Thoughts

Allowing minors to make medical-related decisions for themselves is a slippery slope. If we allow them to go get vaccines, what other bills will be introduced that will allow minors to act without parental consent? 

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