Some children can get vaccinated for COVID-19 without parental consent

Posted at 5:24 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 19:31:46-04

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WTVF) — Older children in some cases can get the COVID-19 vaccine without parental consent due to state law.

Children 12 years old and up can now be vaccinated for COVID-19. For Yasmin Hassler, she wants her rising senior to get it in the summer. As of now, she plans on waiting for her younger children to get vaccinated. Hassler said, "To see how this kinda plays out."

Recently, parents discovered that older children can get vaccinated without their consent. It's called the “mature minor” doctrine, which allows healthcare providers to treat certain minors without parental consent, according to the “Rule of Sevens." (explained below)

  • Under the age of 7 there is no capacity, and the physician must have parental consent to treat (unless a statutory exception applies).
  • Between the ages of 7 and 14, there is a rebuttable presumption that there is no capacity, and a physician generally should get parental consent before treating (unless a statutory exception applies).
  • Between the ages of 14 and 18, there is a rebuttable presumption of capacity, and the physician may treat without parental consent unless the physician believes that the minor is not sufficiently mature to make his or her own health care decisions.

Click here to read more about the "mature minor" doctrine.

Hessler said, " I feel like that’s an oxymoron to be honest, I don’t know if there’s a 'mature minor.'"

She doesn't feel comfortable with her kids getting the shot without her being present. "I was really shocked and slightly frightened about that prospect," Hessler said.

This law is known to some people because juveniles can get birth control and other care without their parents knowing. Hessler said, "I understand that, and I feel like that’s different just because it’s keeping them from being a young parent, and we don’t know much about the covid vaccine with kids yet."

Local health departments have been instructed to follow the law. A statement from the Tennessee Department of Health said in part:

"The mature minor doctrine has been present in Tennessee since the 1980’s. Tennessee is like many states in this regard, including several Southeastern states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and South Carolina."

We checked in with the Williamson County School district spokesperson and Metro Nashville Public Schools. They don't currently plan on administering the vaccine in the classroom. For perspective, most places require parental consent to get vaccinated, and they also want a parent present for the first dose.

"I think talking to your kids and having a very open conversation is the most important thing which is what we’ve done," Hessler said.