In the midst of a public debate over exemptions for childhood vaccines, there's evidently a movement afoot by kids raised in anti-vax households who are trying to get immunized without parental consent.
What are the details?
Several news outlets have reported that unvaccinated teens are taking to Reddit to ask adults for advice on how they can get the shots without their parents knowing.
Salon tracked down two young adults who posted online to tell their stories. One was 18-year-old Laura from Colorado who said she was seeking her own options because she needs a number of shots in order to attend college.
"I plan to get Hepatitis A and B, MMR, the flu, HPV, TDaP [tetanus, diptheria and pertussis], and many other immunizations that I was 'exempt' from," she wrote in an email, adding that the re-emergence of measles has made her "seriously anxious."
A 23-year-old Canadian told Salon that she started researching how to get immunized on her own around the age of 13. Eventually, she was vaccinated for "everything," she said, but did not mention at which age she was able to have the shots administered.
Romper and Fatherly both quoted comments purportedly submitted by minors on Reddit. User /u/Danny691261 posted, "I am writing because I am the 15 year old son of an anti-vaccine parent. I have spent the last 4 years trying to convince my mother that vaccines are safe. I haven't succeeded. So instead I am trying to research how to be vaccinated without my mother's consent."
In a thread for those seeking legal advice, a user who claimed to be 13 years old wrote, "I haven't got vaccines since elementary school, Dad fell down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole, and my Mom agrees with him. Any and all advice is appreciated."
Fatherly points out that even if health care providers were legally able to provide minors with vaccines behind their parents' backs, "in most cases it would get billed to the parent's insurance, likely (causing) conflict between the child and their families."
According to an investigation by KREM-TV, teens under the age of majority are generally prohibited from obtaining shots without their parents' permission in the U.S. There are, however, some exceptions under what is referred to as the "mature minor doctrine," where teens who can prove a certain level of independence such as being emancipated or pregnant, for instance — and are able to find a health care provider willing to give them the shots knowing they could be sued.
Recent measles outbreaks in the U.S. have reignited the debate over whether non-medical exemptions to inoculations should be allowed. Anti-vaxxers say the government should not have the right to demand citizens receive such jabs against their will, while some vaccination proponents argue those who opt out of having their kids vaccinated put others at risk.
Only three states prohibit all non-medical exemptions. Anti-vaxxers cite an array of reasons for forgoing the shots for their kids, including religious and personal beliefs.