Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bill Allows Teen Parents to Consent to Their Own Vaccinations

Under current Texas law, a teen mother can make decisions about vaccinating her baby, but when it comes to her own vaccinations she needs her parent’s consent first. Senate Bill 63 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would change this. Senator Nelson’s legislation would allow a minor who is pregnant or is a parent to consent to his or her own immunizations.

Texas physicians say it’s imperative that parents – regardless of their age – get vaccinated against diseases like influenza and pertussis, which can spread easily from adult to child. These diseases can be deadly to children. Celia B. Neavel, MD, an Austin family physician specializing in adolescent health, explained to legislators last month that the current law creates a barrier for young patients to protect themselves and their children. One of Dr. Neavel’s young female patients came in for a postpartum checkup and needed vaccinations but could not get them because her mother was away at work and could not sign a consent form.

“Of course, this same teen signs consents for her own baby’s vaccines and has a good understanding of their importance,” said Dr. Neavel.

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing tomorrow. Jason Terk, MD, a Keller pediatrician and chair of the Texas Medical Association Council on Science and Public Health, will testify on behalf of TMA, the Texas Pediatric Society, and the Texas Academy of Family Physicians in support of the bill.  Vaccinations are important, safe, and effective.

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