SPRINGFIELD – Illinois parents concerned about their children getting secret vaccinations against sexually transmitted diseases may get the opportunity to voice their opinion about overseeing their children’s medical care as soon as the fall veto session, State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said Wednesday.
“The rule change slipped through and nobody caught it. We’re looking at how we can correct it,” she said.
Rezin is referring to a change made in June that allows minors to get vaccinations for sexually transmitted infections (STI) without their parents’ knowledge that is raising concern among Illinois parents.
Since 1995, Illinois minors starting at age twelve have had the right to consent to medical treatment and counseling if they thought they had been exposed to an STI.
At the end of June, Illinois’ Department of Public Health confirmed, another right was granted to Illinois minors – the ability to consent to vaccinations affiliated with STIs.
Illinois minors are not allowed to receive pain relievers or any other medical treatment without their parents’ consent. They are not allowed to get their ears pierced or their skin tattooed without responsible adults being in agreement. But now, under Illinois’ communicable disease code, they can get Gardasil or Hepatitis B shots and keep them a secret from their parents under federal HIPAA laws.
“This new public policy in Illinois is stunning and dangerous,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccination Information Center in Virginia. “Unless parents are informed that their children have been given a vaccine like Gardasil, they can’t monitor their children for symptoms or side effects that could cause permanent harm. No twelve year old has the ability to object morally or ethically to a health professional telling them they need a vaccination.”
“Gardasil is a vaccination given as a prevention against the human papillomavirus (HPV), not a treatment if a child thinks she may have been exposed,” Fisher said.
The July 2013 U.S. federal government's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System shows 30,674 adverse reactions reported after Gardasil vaccinations, with 963 recipients being left disabled and 140 dead.
How did Illinois children get the right to consent to STI vaccinations such as Gardasil without legislative debate or public comment?
In May, the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules considered a proposal rewriting a section of the Communicable Disease Control and Immunizations’ Control of Sexually Transmissible Infections Code.
“The changes were mostly to do with revising language concerning HIV, but the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggested the change adding vaccinations,” Vicki Thomas, the executive director of J-CAR said. “They said that part of the treatment for STIs now involves vaccinations, and at their recommendation, the words ‘or vaccination against’ were added.”
Thomas said no one raised any questions or comments about the change, so the new responsibility for vaccinations and any adverse effects was provided to minors twelve years of age and older when J-CAR voted to accept the section rewrite.
Senator Rezin serves on J-CAR and said the addition was one she disagrees with, but “Nobody caught it, and literally three words were inserted,” making the change.
Rezin said legislative staff is looking at what can be done to correct the current policy now in effect.
“We’re looking at it, at how this happened, and hoping to consider legislation that will cause parents of minors twelve and above to consent to vaccinations like Gardasil,” Rezin said.
However, involving parents in the treatment of children who think they may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection may be a challenge in the Illinois legislature.
In 2011, California passed into law AB 499, which allows children to receive Gardasil or Hepatitis B vaccination without parents’ consent. The legislation was controversial and drew outrage from parents that didn’t sway state lawmakers.
“Informed consent should always be a criteria for medical treatment,” NVIC’s director Fisher said. “Children at age 12 are unable to process what is needed for informed consent. Illinois has enacted a very dangerous policy.”