When my oldest was in grade nine, 6 years ago, we were told the girls should have the new human papillomavirus (HPV) virus. I did my homework and I learned all kinds of nasty things about the shots. Reports were hard to find because it was such a new immunization. I had more questions than answers so I advised her not to get the immunization. I gave her my reasons why because she could have given her consent, despite my wishes, which further infuriated and shocked me. Did you know that children as young as 10 (grade 5) can give a Mature Minor Consent to undergo a medical procedure and nobody has to tell the parents they had the medical procedure done. In BC, children of any age can give their consent depending on their maturity level. What happens if the child is sick as a result of the medical procedure and is unconscious? The parent won’t have all the information to provide the health authorities to quickly care for their child. I’m not sure I like this policy.
While a mature child can give their consent to undergo a medical procedure, a guardian must register their child(ren) at a school of their choice. I consider school like a job and I would hate to attend a school that I didn’t like. This almost happened to my son when he was in the Ministry of Children and Development’s (MCFD’s) care. By not allowing my son the opportunity to attend the school of his choice, they were denying him a Double Dogwood which earns students a BC Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma) and a Diplome de fin d’etudes secondaires en C-B.
I thought children had rights and the MCFD would act on their wishes (within reason). According to Article 12 of the Society for Children and Youth of BC (SCYOBC), it states children “have the right to an opinion and for it to be listened to and taken seriously.” This doesn’t mean their wishes are always followed. Imagine in the 21st Century not having a say where you go to school or work or participate in activities that you have done throughout your life because the Child, Family and Community Service Act states:
“…(5) While the child is in the director’s care, the director may consent to the child’s participation in routine school, social or recreational activities. …
(c) in a location that will allow the child to continue in the same school. …”
We are doing a disservice to our children if we are not empowering them to make and follow their own decisions and to learn from their mistakes. The MCFD is further inflicting emotional harm when they don’t financially support our children to participate in recreational activities they choose. The fees for my son to participate in an annual family activity that he has done for 12 years was not approved by the ministry for reasons which are beyond me. This hypocrisy of our Age Based Rights needs to be reviewed and corrected especially when the MCFD is caring for our children. I feel like the government is picking and choosing what is in their best interests and not our children’s.
c) Mature Minors
The Infants Act authorizes a health care provider to provide health care to a minor, an individual 18 years of age or younger, based on consent provided by the minor. This requires that the health care provider is of the opinion that the minor understands the nature and consequences and the reasonably foreseeable benefits and risks of the proposed health care and the health care is in the best interests of the minor.
There is no legal age of consent for health care in BC; instead, a minor’s ability to consent depends upon the minor’s level of maturity. Mature minor authority takes precedence over parental authority. Mature minors have the authority to give, refuse, or revoke consent for their own immunization as long as the health care provider has assessed the minor’s understanding of the details of the immunization, including risk and benefits, and has made reasonable efforts to determine and has concluded that the immunization is in the minor’s best interest.
School Based Immunization Programs
In general, parental consent is sought for students 12 years of age and younger, although there may be extenuating circumstances in which a child of this age may provide their own consent. Consult a Program Manager or Risk Management Consultant for further direction in this circumstance.
Students 13 years of age and older may consent for themselves if they are determined to be capable. Immunization consent forms and accompanying information are to be sent home with the student, and parents/guardians are encouraged to review the information with their child and involve them in the decision. However, if the student presents without parent/guardian consent, or indicates they wish to make a decision different from that of the parent, it is the immunization provider’s professional responsibility to inform them about a mature minor’s right to provide or refuse consent on their own behalf. The immunizer should then assess the capability of the minor to provide consent and proceed with the consent process. If the student presents with a consent form that they have signed themselves, the immunizer still has a responsibility to assess the capability of the student to provide consent and confirm the student’s understanding of the immunization.
Mature minors There is no legal age of consent for health care in BC. Children 18 years of age and under can legally consent to or refuse immunization on their own behalf if they demonstrate capability. If the immunizer is not satisfied that a minor has the necessary capability to consent to or refuse an immunization, parental/guardian consent may be sought.
At a minimum, refused vaccines should be reoffered at the following milestones:
• Child’s 2nd birthday
• Child’s 4th birthday
• Child’s 10th birthday
• Child’s 13th birthday
Mature minors should be offered the opportunity to consent for themselves regardless of previous parental/guardian refusal (see Mature Minor Consent).
*Note: Influenza vaccine should be offered annually, regardless of previous refusal.