Who decides? Consent for healthcare decisions of minors in the United States

Who decides? Consent for healthcare decisions of minors in the United States
Nichole M Stettner, Ella N Lavelle, Patrick Cafferty
Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 18 January 2023
Purpose of review
The purpose of this review is to examine when parents and legal guardians have the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the minors in their care, when the decisions of healthcare professionals may supersede those of parents and guardians, and under what conditions minors can make healthcare decisions for themselves.
Recent findings
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has reignited discussion of who should make healthcare decisions for minors. Though serious adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are rare, hesitancy toward pediatric COVID-19 vaccination is prevalent among parents in the United States. This has contributed to large numbers of minors who are not up-to-date or not fully vaccinated against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection. Surveys reveal a majority of minors in the United States are willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. A number of scholars have recommended allowing adolescents the ability to consent to COVID-19 vaccination without parental approval.
Allowing adolescents with a minimum age of 15 to consent to vaccination without parental or guardian approval will more quickly enable adolescents to receive new vaccines as they become available, such as the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine.

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