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Parent Sues D.C. Health Dept. Over Law on Child Vaccinations

July 16, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
A patient receives an influenza vaccine. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

WASHINGTON — The father of a 16-year-old girl is suing the District of Columbia Department of Health over its new law that allows children as young as 11 years old to get vaccinated without parental consent.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court says the law is unconstitutional and conflicts with federal requirements on vaccinating children.

He was referring to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which set up a no-fault system for compensating people injured by vaccines. It also requires health care providers to give parents a vaccine information statement before injections are administered.

The D.C. Council approved a law this year that says if a doctor determines minors are capable of informed consent, they could receive government-recommended vaccinations without their parents’ permission. 

It was intended partly to speed up the rate of vaccinations for coronavirus but also to help protect children against the human papillomavirus, which is sexually transmitted. Some parents oppose HPV vaccines on religious grounds.

The plaintiff, Josh Mazer, said his daughter wanted to get a vaccine for summer camp without her parents’ knowledge. She went to MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics to get a Tdap vaccine.

She was told she needed two additional vaccines, Gardasil and MenACWY, according to the lawsuit. The girl did not receive the vaccinations but a doctor told her how to get them if she was still interested without her parents finding out, Mazer’s complaint says.

“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.

The lawsuit alleges violations of Fifth Amendment due process and First Amendment freedom of religion.

The case is Mazer v. D.C. Dep’t of Health, D.D.C., No. 1:21-cv-01782, in U.S. District Court, filed July 2, 2021.

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