Adolescent consent for vaccination: a position paper of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
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Vaccines currently recommended for adolescents by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have the potential to improve the health of youth by preventing conditions such as: tetanus, pertussis, meningococcal disease, influenza, and genital warts, as well as later adult outcomes such as cervical and other human papillomavirus-related cancers. Adolescent vaccine coverage lags behind that for younger age groups. A requirement to obtain parental consent for vaccination can present a significant barrier to improving adolescent vaccine uptake across all health care settings in which adolescents access care. The ability of minors to consent to vaccination can influence whether adolescents receive indicated vaccines during adolescent health care visits when parents are absent and when adolescents are seen for confidential services. State laws govern consent for the delivery of health care to minors. All states have some laws that allow minors to consent to health care based either on their status or on the services they are seeking. Some of these laws would allow them to consent to vaccination. It is the Position of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine that, within ethical and legal guidelines, it will be important to develop strategies that maximize opportunities for minors to receive vaccinations when parents are not physically present, including opportunities for them to give their own consent.