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Can a Child Legally Make an Important Health Decision Without their Parents? We'll Soon Find Out

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Vaccinations minus parental rights equals big controversial issue. Should a 12 year old be given the authority to make health decisions that will affect the rest of his or her life? California’s Assembly Bill 499, which has already been passed by the California senate, will allow 12 year old children to decide to receive Gardasil, Hepatitis B and other vaccines or medications to prevent STDs in the future without their parents’ consent. The bill is currently waiting for the governor’s action this month.

Not only is the subject of taking away a parent’s right to consent for their minor child an issue, but so is the mixed information and controversy about the safety of vaccines -- especially to youngsters.

So let’s take a look at both the defense and the opposition towards this bill.

One argument in support of the bill is that the increase and implementation of immunizations would prevent the spread of disease and decrease cases of certain types of cervical cancers and STDs. If all went as planned, this would indeed reach the ultimate goal of public health -- to decrease the spread of disease for the largest population possible.

Another argument for the bill explains that this is a time-sensitive matter. The younger we can vaccinate individuals for certain types of STDs, the more positive and widespread the results would be.

On the other hand, as with all vaccinations and medical interventions, every body reacts differently.

Although we know that this is the case, we must consider the negative facts about Gardasil and vaccines in general. The harmful ingredients often found in vaccines, such as mercury and other chemical additives, have been shown to cause many negative side effects.

With the Gardasil vaccine, there are a handful of negative side effects including, but not limited to: nausea, pain, fever, and fainting (which are not considered to be “serious side effects”).

“Serious” effects include, but are not limited to: permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness and even death.

Although the consent for these vaccines will only be required by the 12 year old and permitted to be kept secret from the parents, liability still remains with the parents. If the child exhibits harmful side effects, negative reactions or even death, it is none other than the possibly clueless parents who will bare the brunt of it.

According to the CDC, of the approximately 35 million doses of Gardasil that have been distributed in the U.S., the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received a total of 18,727 reports of adverse events following Gardasil vaccination (approximately 0.05 percent).

This took me a minute to wrap my head around, so to understand the statistic better -- this means that in a room of 2,000 people who receive the vaccine, there is a probability of 1 of them having an adverse reaction to the vaccine. Of these reports received from VAERS, 92 percent were considered to be non-serious, and 8 percent were considered serious.

Everybody is comfortable with different probabilities and risks, the questions is --what are you comfortable with? Can a 12 year old make an informed decision about their health or should it be left in the hands of their parents?


CDC - Reports of Health Concerns Following HPV Vaccination - Vaccine Safety. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from

Cochran, S. (n.d.). CA AB 499 Nixes Parental Consent for Gardasil Shots Given to Preteens - Yahoo! News. Yahoo! News - Latest News & Headlines. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from

Fisher, B. L. (n.d.). NVIC Vaccine News . National Vaccine Information Center – Vaccine Watch Dog . Retrieved September 9, 2011, from http://www.nvic.org/NVIC-Vaccine-News/September-2011/Vaccine-Wake-Up-Call-for-Parents--Your-Children-Ar.aspx

Why is California FORCING Vaccines with NO Parental Consent? (n.d.). Vital Votes Health Blog - Natural Health Articles by Dr. Mercola. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from

Reviewed September 14, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment3 Comments

I think you touched upon some powerful and thought-provoking points! Unfortunately, it looks like we're still waiting for a decision from the governor, so we'll see what happens!

September 21, 2011 - 8:35pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Danielle Serrano)

I'm amazed how easily people are willing to give-up rights...I'm not even sure how they can do this with-in the law without parents rights being taken away. Vaccines for Polio—and alike-- are in a much different category. I have little hope for CA, this would not be the first law they have put on the books that "seems" to help but in the end will do more harm. The citizens of CA should have used the power of the voice in this case. TX tried the same thing and the people corrected it, so my hope is they do the same in CA.

September 22, 2011 - 4:55am
EmpowHER Guest

not worth the risk, the odds of a child knowing if they are allergic to something contained in the vaccine are low. Is someone reading this list off to them? have they been tested to see if they are allergic? I guess you can say if they are old enough to decide on medical issues and make these calls --- let them vote as well. Your asking them to at 12 to take a risk they might not understand. Your asking them to trust the adult, doctor, whom they trust to say no when they are being told to get it? Bad law, parents should be informed and make that choice for them.

September 17, 2011 - 7:21am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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