The Bulletin Board

Republicans balk at bill that would allow minors to get vaccines without parental consent

By: - January 31, 2022 4:55 pm
A person getting a shot

The state requires that children receive several vaccines. (Scott Olson | Getty Images)

A bill that would allow minors age 16 and older to get vaccines without parental consent got pushback from Republicans on the House Health and Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee Monday, who cited parental rights concerns.

House Bill 1126, sponsored by Rep. Amanda Bouldin, a Manchester Democrat, would cover all vaccines against communicable diseases that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people ages 16 and up. The FDA approved the Moderna vaccine Monday for people ages 18 and older.

Republican Reps. Beth Folsom of Wentworth and Bill King of Milford asked Bouldin how well a 16-year-old could make an informed decision without guidance from parents.

It feels as if you are taking the parents who are good parents, who are paying attention, who are engaged in their kids’ lives … and taking away their rights because of a few parents that are bad apples,” Folsom said. 

The state requires that children receive several vaccines, including for mumps, measles, and polio, to attend school. Because of the requirement, immunization rates are high for those vaccines, Mercuri said. The rate is much lower for non-required vaccines, including those for hepatitis A, HPV, and meningitis, Mercuri said. 

Arguing for her bill, Bouldin noted that minors can marry and get access to substance misuse treatment at 16 without parental consent. She said her bill is for minors who do not have a caring adult in their lives. 

“It’s not to interfere with the relationship between a parent and the child, but to compensate for the lack of a relationship,” she said.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Mark Pearson, a Hampstead Republican, asked Bouldin if minors seeking to make their own decision should instead petition the court to be emancipated. 

“That’s a lot of work just to get a vaccination if that’s what you want,” Bouldin said.

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.