In a press conference today, Yukon's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley stated that while “parents are a very important part of this picture”, minors who are capable of understanding and “expressing” their wishes are “able to give their own consent” for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Consent is based on capacity and not age,” said the top doc.
The comments were made in reply to a reporter asking whether youth need parental permission in order to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Here's what Hanley had to say, in part:
“What we've always had to rely on is what we've always relied on for... youth and immunization, and for that matter, other health care decisions. And that is that... consent is based on capacity and not age. So adolescents are right in that age... that age bracket where they are starting to become autonomous individuals, and they're starting to learn how to make... decisions, and determine their own autonomy within the family and within society for that matter.
“So consent really works the same way. There is, actually, a one-pager, a bilingual one-pager on how that whole process works.
“...that doesn't mean to say that a parent does not — is not wanted. I mean, really, that's a conversation between the parent and the youth... ideally, those conversations should take place, in terms of questions about the vaccine. Some of the youth I know are doing their own research, they're asking their parents questions, they're asking others, they're talking with their peers.
“So it's really making sure that the child has that conversation, reviews the information on the mRNA information sheet, and then reaches an agreement about... who's going to provide the consent. Maybe it's a 12-year-old, 13, 14-year-old, and that consent is fully taken on by the parent, and that's fine.
“And it may be a slightly older child who then decides to make that decision.
“So really, it's having that conversation, and then deciding who's going to... bring that permission to the table... and always at that table, there's a chance to ask further questions.
“But definitely, the parents are a very important part of this picture. But a minor who is capable of understanding, and capable of expressing, is able to give their own consent.”
In Yukon, a minor is defined as a person under 19 years, and a child is a person under the age of 16.
For comparison, written parental consent is required for minors in the territory to work in a bar that serves alcohol, and the age of majority to purchase tobacco was raised from 18 to 19 in 2019.
You can watch the response for yourself here: