Friday, March 8, 2013

Bill Gives Teen Parents the Right to Consent to Their Own Vaccinations

A teenager can make decisions about vaccinating her baby, but under current Texas law, typically she cannot get a flu shot herself without her parent’s consent. A bill moving through the legislature aims to change that.

Legislation by Sen. Jane Nelson (R- Flower Mound) would allow a minor who is pregnant or is a parent to consent to his or her own immunizations.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure that everyone around babies, including their own parents, do not pass on influenza or pertussis or other vaccine-preventable diseases to the child,” said Celia B. Neavel, MD, an Austin family physician specializing in adolescent health. She noted several Texas babies died in 2012 from pertussis because the people caring for these infants were not properly vaccinated.

Dr. Neavel says the bill, which was her idea, corrects a common situation such as this: A recent patient, a teen mother with her baby, came in for a postpartum/well-child visit. The young woman needed vaccinations but could not receive them, as her own mother was away at work and not present to sign a consent form. “She will have to return with her mother another time if possible, if the mother can take off work, which might never happen; it was a wasted opportunity,” said Dr. Neavel. “Of course, this same teen signs consents for her own baby’s vaccines and has a good understanding of their importance.”

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