Letter: Poorly planned Covid vaccine clinics in public schools wrongly remove parental consent

Posted 5/19/21

As Covid vaccine clinics steamroll their way into our public schools, parents are left wondering how we have been removed from the process entirely. 

The Dept. of Health recently declared …

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Letter: Poorly planned Covid vaccine clinics in public schools wrongly remove parental consent

Posted

As Covid vaccine clinics steamroll their way into our public schools, parents are left wondering how we have been removed from the process entirely. 

The Dept. of Health recently declared minors over the age of 16 to be medically emancipated from their parents, citing title 23-4.6-1 as legal grounds for removing us from our children’s medical decisions. This is a misinterpretation of a law that was meant to help minors access care for emergencies when a parent couldn’t be reached.  For example, should a 16-year-old break a leg, they can consent to medical treatment before their parent arrives to do so on their behalf.   

The law cited by RIDOH specifically allows for emergency or routine medical care. Covid vaccine administration is neither emergency nor routine medical care, thus medical emancipation does not apply to Covid vaccines. Our high school aged children are certainly not dying of Covid, so what exactly is the emergency for 16- and 17-year-olds?

These very new, unapproved vaccines have never been routine care for anyone, let alone for our school aged children. None of the Covid vaccines have even been FDA approved. They are experimental. Why are DOH and many of our public schools so eagerly removing parental consent for experimental products? 

I challenge RIDOH’s misinterpretation of the title 23-4.6-1 and charge that the agency is misusing Rhode Island law to medically emancipate our children for experimental procedures. This is a usurpation of our core right as parents.   

I find it unacceptable for any health agency or public school to attempt to remove me from my children’s medical decisions. It is both logical and prudent to expect more safety data than what is currently available for the new Covid vaccines.

As their fiercest advocate, it is my right and my duty to make those choices for my children. All parents, regardless of whether they intend to accept or decline these vaccines, share this right. I urge our communities to join me in challenging RIDOH’s usurpation of it. 

Public, tax funded schools have simply charged forward with in-school vaccination plans without answering many fundamental questions, beginning with whether the community feels that schools are an appropriate place to administer experimental products.  Apparently, public demand for these in school clinics is irrelevant. 

How do schools intend to protect medical privacy at these clinics? Will teachers or parents know our children’s Covid vaccination status? How will schools handle adverse events? Will parents even be notified of an adverse event, since our consent is apparently not required

What if our children are peer pressured? If a student chooses NOT to get a Covid vaccine, what will the repercussions be? Will they be barred from extracurricular events such as sports, prom or graduation? Will face masks be imposed upon ONLY those who chose not to get a shot?   

Informed consent can never be given under duress.  What sort of pressure might our children be subjected to if we allow outside entities to remove their guardians from medical consent?   

Until the Department of Health and school superintendents adequately address these concerns, they have no business bringing poorly planned Covid vaccine clinics to our public schools.  They are inappropriate.  

Maddalena Cirignotta
South Kingstown

Ms. Cirignotta is a parent, public school teacher and a founder of the Rhode Island Wellness Society.

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