Tennessee State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) introduced legislation to mandate parental consent for minors to receive vaccines.
The measure, House Bill 2451, requires written consent for a child to receive a vaccine from a healthcare provider and in order for a student to participate in a mental health screening.
“This bill reiterates the fact that parents have total control when it comes to making the best health care decisions for their children, not the government, not the school system, and not the department of health,” Weaver said. “Parents are already responsible for their children until they turn 18. This just ensures that they have the final say regarding their children and any current or future vaccines that may be developed.”
If fully enacted, the legislation would reverse part of the Tennessee Department of Health’s “Mature Minor Doctrine,” which allows vaccination without parental consent, in some cases.
“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,” the policy explains.
The parental consent for a vaccine is a section of a larger, amended piece of legislation to enact the “Parent Bill of Rights Act.” The effort is led by Lynn Weaver and Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma).
“This bill requires a school to prohibit a student who is a minor from participating in a field trip, school assembly, or guest speaker event unless the parent or legal guardian of the student has provided written consent permitting the student’s participation,” an additional summary of the bill explains.
The bill has been referred to the House Health Subcommittee and is scheduled to be heard on March 22. If the piece advances out of the committee, the full House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor Bill Lee must give approval for the piece to become law.
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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].