The measles outbreak Washington state has now climbed to nearly 50 confirmed cases. Most of the patients are unvaccinated children, re-igniting the conversation about the importance of vaccinations.
This post on Reddit, which has received hundreds of upvotes on both the Spokane and Vancouver pages, claims minors can get vaccinated for free without their parents' consent.
It reads in part: "You do NOT need parental approval... for your own vaccines."
The post refers to Washington's Childhood Vaccine Program, saying it provides free vaccines to those under the age of 19.
So how much truth is there to this post?
First, that program does exist. It uses federal and state money to pay for the vaccines of kids whose families can't afford them on their own. If you're 18 and a legal adult, you can use this program on your own.
So that part, we can verify as accurate.
But minors getting those vaccines without parental consent is a different story. According to a spokeswoman from the program, standard parental approval laws still apply.
Columbia Legal Services in Seattle put together a document outlining exactly what procedures minors can get without parental approval.
In Washington, the only time a minor can always consent, on their own, to a medical procedure is in the case of an emergency.
An attorney at CLS said that whether an outbreak like this counts as an emergency is something that would have to be litigated in court.
Generally speaking, in the case of vaccines, kids still need to get consent from their parents.
However, there is one exception here: the mature minor doctrine.
This is a complex legal principle that lets doctors to provide care to minors, if they meet a certain set of criteria.
The main factor is usually independence, like if the teenager is living on their own.
The decision is ultimately up to the doctor and whether or not they're willing to risk being sued over it.
So if you're an unvaccinated minor, can you get a shot without parental consent?
But you'd need to be able to prove maturity and to find a doctor willing to take the legal risks.