At what age should kids be making their own medical decisions?

When teens disagree with their parents about health decisions Lindenberger isn’t alone in wanting to go against his parents’ wishes when it comes to vaccines. An underage teenager in Washington shared a similar plight to Reddit just a few months later.

ISLAMABAD (Online): It started with a Reddit post at the end of 2018. Ethan Lindenberger was reaching out to the internet for advice on how to get vaccinated now that he was an adult. “My parents are kind of stupid and don’t believe in vaccines,” he wrote, before going on to explain he’d had countless arguments with them on the topic over the years to no avail. Now that he was finally 18, he wanted to take matters into his own hands. Reddit came through. Lindenberger was able to get vaccinated, but he didn’t stop there.

In March 2019, he appeared before Congress to share his story and speak against the groups he claims are responsible for spreading misinformation and fear about vaccines to people like his mother. When teens disagree with their parents about health decisions Lindenberger isn’t alone in wanting to go against his parents’ wishes when it comes to vaccines. An underage teenager in Washington shared a similar plight to Reddit just a few months later.

Yet another post celebrated a newly minted adult getting their own shot records for the first time. While most medical practitioners and government officials are united in support of vaccinations, the states seem to be torn on how to deal with minors who want to go against their parents’ wishes to skip those vaccinations. Some states, such as California and Delaware, have laws in place that allow children as young as 12 to receive treatment without parental consent when it comes to things like vaccinations and reproductive healthcare. Other states, such as Alaska and Idaho, allow medical practitioners to determine if a minor is capable of making these decisions for themselves in the event the parent or guardian goes against medical advice. But the vast majority of states still leave these choices entirely in the hands of the parents, with medical ethicists divided on when, and how, children should be given the right to override their parent’s medical decisions. In support of the family One of the arguments against granting children this ultimate freedom is the damage it could potentially do to the family unit. It’s an issue that Dr. Cora Breuner, MPH, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and member of the division of adolescent medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, takes to heart. “As a pediatrician, the important thing to me is the family,” Breuner told Healthline. “I think the thing we are losing sight of in all this is that families have their own values they are trying to impart on their kids.” But that doesn’t mean Breuner thinks those values should always be blindly supported by the medical community. “I am a pediatrician and I believe in universal vaccines,” she said. “But I also believe in supporting the family.” She worries that allowing children to override their parents when it comes to vaccinations, a topic some parents can feel extremely passionate about, runs the risk of damaging the family unit. “The problem I see with allowing kids to make their own decisions with this is that the family model is how they survive. It’s something they rely on. And while it is a quick fix for this situation to give them that freedom, we need to be mindful of the fact that we are potentially creating another problem within their family unit.”

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