Under the Mature Minor ‘doctrine’, a minor is deemed capable of giving consent if he or she has the maturity and intelligence to decide about their own health care
A 12-year-old boy secretly seeking something his parents had always denied him recently visited Dr. Eric Cadesky.
He wanted his baby shots.
Satisfied the pre-teen possessed the maturity to make his own medical decisions, Cadesky was happy to oblige.
The boy’s parents had chosen not to vaccinate their son after being exposed to “fear-based” anti-vaxx propaganda, said Cadesky, a family physician and president of Doctors of BC. However, in B.C., as in most every other part of the country, a minor under the age of 18 who is deemed capable can make a decision to be immunized without his or her parents’ knowledge or consent.
Now, in the face of declining immunization rates and a rise in the “vaccine hesitant,” the question being asked is, do doctors have a legal and ethical obligation to ask unvaccinated youth if they would prefer to be inoculated?
Cadesky said his own 12-year-old patient, who has now started on the catch-up schedule for vaccination, had been exposed to “misinformation” and decided to seek out more trustworthy sources. “He had heard about the current (measles) outbreak and had spoken to a number of reliable sources and he had come in to further that discussion,” Cadesky said.