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HPV Immunization without Consent
Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Washington. He and his wife homeschool their children. Read more >>
The newly available human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines have caused some tension between those who believe the vaccines should be routinely given to children under 18 and those who disagree. Although HPV vaccination is not mandatory for children in Washington state—whether public-schooled or homeschooled—parents may still find themselves caught up in this controversy as they make medical decisions for their children.
When a Home School Legal Defense Association member in Washington took two of her children to get their immunizations updated, the admitting nurse indicated that the boys should be given the HPV vaccine since they were over the age of 11. The mother was taken by surprise, since she had thought the HPV vaccine was for girls and had not discussed it with her sons. The nurse assured her that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that the vaccine be given to boys as well as girls.
As our member and her husband had already discussed their concerns about the HPV vaccine, she declined it for her boys and filled out a decline form. However, one of the boys had already been taken back to an examining room in preparation for his other shots and didn’t overhear the conversation. Then the second son was taken to another examining room. When they both came back, they informed their mother that they had both been given two shots. When questioned, the nurse who administered the shots admitted that she had given them both the HPV vaccine. When our member informed the nurse that she had specifically declined this vaccine, and that it was administered against her wishes, the nurse shrugged it off and said, “Oh, well.”
Not satisfied, our member also complained to the doctor. Since she hadn’t been able to discuss the vaccine with her sons in the privacy of their home, as she had done previously with her daughter, the boys were given the immunization without their full informed consent.
In Washington, parents are free to decide whether they want their children to receive the HPV vaccine. If you have additional questions about this issue, please talk with your doctor.
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