Dansereau: Re-evaluating the age of medical consent

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer Editor

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer Editor

I was at the young age range of my grade growing up since I had a November birthday. Because of this at the age of 17 I graduated high school and moved out of my childhood home and to downtown Edmonton for university.

At the age of 17 I was able to make independent financial, education, and lifestyle decisions. I understand for many instances where parental consent is necessary before the age of 18.

Looking back at certain decisions I am thrilled that I was unable to get the tattoos that I was set on at 16 because my parents never would have signed a waiver to allow me to get one underage (not to mention many tattoo artists will not put art on a minor even with parental consent because they know it is just a bad idea).

My point is, I was free at 17-years-old to make a plethora of important decisions but I would not have been free to get vaccinated without parental consent.

Right now in Alberta to get a COVID-19 vaccine or any other vaccination, Albertans under the age of 18 will need to provide parental consent.

Like mentioned above, when it comes to decisions regarding bodily autonomy such as certain aspects of body modification, I can understand where parental consent is a positive thing. However, I believe in your teens you should be granted the bodily autonomy to decide what vaccinations and protections you would like.

As a teenager you can be prescribed birth control, all options of which directly impact the hormones in your body and can cause a multitude of side effects which can be long lasting, without parental consent. As a teenager you can carry through or decide to abort a pregnancy without parental consent.

In your teens you can decide to consistently put additional hormones into your body and be trusted to make the proper decisions regarding pregnancy prevention and sexual health, however, you cannot decide without a parent signature if you want a vaccination which also directly impacts your day-to-day life.

I find the line between what decisions a minor can make about their personal health to be contradictory.

If a minor is allowed to make important decisions about their health such as their sexual health, I believe they should be allowed to make the decision on which vaccinations they want to receive independently.

The expectations placed upon young adults to act exactly as that—adults—is astronomical, yet the levels of independence given does not match what is being asked of them.

I think the age of consent when it comes to health decisions such as vaccinations needs to be re-evaluated, as it was for birth control. If the weight and responsibility of reproduction is thrust upon a teenager, allowing them to make a decision independently on their level of protection from a multitude of viruses and diseases should not be an issue.