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Should teens 14+ have a say in what vaccines they receive? A state lawmakers wants to give them the ability to decide

Currently, children under 18 have no say in what vaccines they receive.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — One state lawmaker hopes to give teens the power to decide if they should receive a vaccine. Currently, the decision to vaccinate anyone under the age of 18 is made solely by the parents.

State Senator Amanda Cappelletti, (D) Delaware and Montgomery Counties, wants to allow teens ages 14-years or older to be able to make the decision about which CDC recommended vaccines they want to receive. Therefore, giving them the ability to override their parent's or guardian's decision. 

While this may sound like a progressive idea, Sen. Cappelletti says other, more conservative states allow children to consent. Alaska and Idaho allow kids of any age to consent to all health care decisions. In Alabama, teens 14 and older can consent and in Oregon and South Carolina teens 16 and older can consent. 

Sen. Cappelletti says, she began looking into vaccine age of consent after a 17 year old in her district was turned away at a vaccination site because they did not have their parent's consent. 

"I have my master's in public health. This isn't something that I'm throwing spaghetti against a wall here," said Sen. Cappelletti. "I have the educational background and knowledge to know that going in this direction, providing the ability for minors to determine whether or not they want to get these vaccines is really a good public health measure and public health policy."

Pennsylvania law already allows teens 14 and older to consent to inpatient mental health treatment. Sen. Cappelletti says, this bill would largely mirror that mental health law. 

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