Judge bars DC from vaccinating kids without parental permission

A federal judge is temporarily blocking D.C. from enforcing a law that allows children to be vaccinated without parental consent.

Judge Trevor N. McFadden, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said on Friday that it violates parents’ religious liberty.

The D.C. Council passed the Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act in 2020, which says that a child as young as 11 can get a vaccine without their parents’ knowledge, if a provider decides they are capable of consent.

Two lawsuits were brought in 2021 by D.C.-area parents.

One father, who has a 13-year-old son in KIPP Academy, a D.C. public charter school, said his son suffered from medical conditions, including autoimmunity and asthma caused by earlier vaccinations and is “of the sincere religious belief that he should not inject a foreign substance into his son’s body that may harm him.”

He said his son was singled out for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine and that the District has created a “pressure-cooker environment, enticing and psychologically manipulating [their minor children] to defy their parents and take vaccinations against their parents’ wills.”

That parent is represented by a lawyer from the Children’s Health Defense, founded by anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., which called the decision, “a major legal victory.”

Another parent said his teenage daughter went behind his back to get a COVID-19 vaccine from a D.C. doctor, despite his religious objections and despite having had a severe reaction to a vaccine when she was younger. His daughter had wanted to get the vaccine so she could attend summer camp and attend the college of her choice. She ultimately didn’t get the vaccine.

McFadden granted a preliminary injunction in both cases.

The D.C. Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics joined several other health organizations in filing an amicus brief in support of the law. They wrote that though parental involvement is most often a “key goal” of pediatric practice, “In rare circumstances, however, parental involvement is impossible or even harmful.”

WTOP reached out to the Mayor’s office but did not receive an immediate response.

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin is an anchor/reporter for WTOP. She started her career in New York City as a local TV reporter and has since covered foreign affairs and national politics as a Washington correspondent. She also anchored a nightly news show for an international network.

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