New York state lawmakers propose bill to let teens get vaccinations without parental approval

New York state lawmakers propose bill to let teens get vaccinations without parental approval
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A pair of New York state lawmakers are introducing a measure that would let minors receive vaccinations without parental consent, a move that comes as concerns grow about measles outbreaks in the state. 

The bill, which is being sponsored in both chambers of the New York legislature, would allow any child 14 years or older to receive vaccinations or booster shots for a variety of diseases, including mumps and measles. 

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If passed, New York would join a contingent of states, including Oregon and South Carolina, that allow minors to request vaccines without their parents' approval.

According to The New York Times, some states require minors to be evaluated to ensure they are mature enough to make the decision, a provision the New York bill does not require. 

The bill comes amid multiple outbreaks of measles in New York. Officials have reported 145 confirmed cases of measles in Rockland County, New York, according to the Times. A majority of those cases involve people under the age of 18 who did not receive vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella. 

City officials also have reported 100 cases of measles in Brooklyn and one case in Queens, the Times reported. 

“We are on the verge of a public health crisis,” Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy (D), who is sponsoring the bill, told The New York Times, before pointing to the low inoculation rates in some communities in New York. “We’ve become complacent over the last couple of decades.”

State Sen. Liz Krueger (D), who sponsoring the bill in New York's upper chamber, added that the bill would address how children can be put at risk by either an unengaged parent or one with prejudices. 

“You’re talking about a pretty heavy level of maturity if you’re saying, ‘I want to get vaccinated even though I can’t get any adults in my family to understand why this is important,’ ” Kreuger told the Times. 

“It’s not just the individual who is at risk when they are not immunized,” she continued. “You are putting other people at risk.”

Issues related to vaccination and permissible exemptions have drawn increased scrutiny in recent weeks amid outbreaks of measles across the nation.

Most U.S. states permit parents to claim religious exemptions to vaccination requirements. New York state lawmakers have introduced a bill to eliminate that exemption. However, it remains unclear if it will receive a vote, the Times reported.