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D.C. Sued Over Vaccine Law Curbing Parental Consent for Kids

July 6, 2021, 9:28 PM

A new District of Columbia law that allows kids aged 11 and up to get a vaccine without parental consent is unconstitutional and conflicts with federal childhood vaccination requirements, according to a complaint filed in U.S. district court.

The law, which took effect in March, conflicts with the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and deprives parents of the right to participate in medical decisions for their children, plaintiff Josh Mazer argued in a complaint filed in the U.S. District for the District of Columbia.

The federal statute says that health-care providers who intend to vaccinate a minor must give the parent a vaccine information statement before the shot is administered.

Mazer sued the D.C. Department of Health after his 16-year-old daughter, J.D., a resident of another state, traveled to D.C. and requested that she get a vaccine for summer camp without her parents’ knowledge or consent. Mazer said he was opposed to J.D. getting vaccinations because of religious beliefs as well as a severe reaction she had when she was 5 years old to a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis-containing shot.

J.D. went to MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics to get a Tdap vaccine and was told she also would need to get two additional vaccines, Gardasil and MenACWY, according to the complaint. J.D. decided to leave without getting the shots, but the doctor gave her instructions on how to receive a vaccine if she was still interested without the risk of her parents finding out, Mazer alleged.

“Plaintiff is extremely concerned that a doctor in the District of Columbia. sought to vaccinate his daughter J.D. without his knowledge or consent, and was prepared to engage in an elaborate subterfuge, including counseling his daughter on how to lie, in order to conceal that any vaccines were given,” Mazer said in the lawsuit.

He said his daughter could go back and request a vaccination again, and that if she had an adverse reaction, he “would have been unaware that the vaccines caused the reaction, and he would have been seriously hindered in his ability to advocate for his child to obtain the needed medical care.”

Causes of Action: Declaratory judgment; violation of due process rights under the Fifth Amendment; violation of religious rights under the First Amendment.

Relief: Permanent injunction; declaratory judgment; attorneys’ fees.

Response: The D.C. health department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Siri & Glimstad LLP is representing the plaintiff.

The case is Mazer v. D.C. Dep’t of Health, D.D.C., No. 1:21-cv-01782, complaint filed 7/2/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lesley Torres in California at ltorres@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloombergindustry.com; Alexis Kramer at akramer@bloomberglaw.com

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