teens

How some Australian teenagers are rebelling against their anti-vax parents.

It’s a fact of life that until you’re legally recognised as an adult at age 18, your parents generally call the shots – and for many kids, we mean that literally.

With programs such as “No Jab, No Play” around the country, state governments have made the importance of vaccinations, and the herd immunity they give to children who can’t be vaccinated, clear – and the majority of parents ‘play’ by the rules.

But what happens to the kids whose parents refuse the jab – commonly known as anti-vaxxers? Well, as is being reported this week, they often they grow up and decide to vaccinate themselves.

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The Courier Mail reports that in Queensland, some teenagers as young as 15 are increasingly rebelling against their anti-vax parents by organising their own vaccinations.

Doctors have called children using the state’s law, which allows them to seek medical treatment as independents, ‘Generation V’.

Queensland is currently the only state which allows teenagers from 15 years of age to immunise themselves. In parts of Queensland, the rate of children being immunised in accordance with the recommended schedule is as low as 88.93 per cent – which doesn’t meet the Australian Medical Association’s national target of 95 per cent, The Courier Mail reported.

As more people become aware of the risks of being unvaccinated, increasingly curious teens are taking to social media to look for advice for their situation.

For example, in a Reddit thread called My parents denied me vaccinations as a child. Today, I was finally able to take my health into my own hands, one person shared their vaccination card that had now been signed.

The post went viral, with 179,000 upvotes and almost 6000 comments, generally in support of the person’s decision.

One poster wrote in response, “Thank you for doing this! I have autoimmune disorders that make my vaccinations pretty much useless, and herd immunity allows me to survive without fearing these preventable diseases.”

A photo of the vaccination card shared in the Reddit post. Source: Reddit.
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Dr Harry Nespolon, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said teens, whilst technically still children, had the right to protect themselves from disease if they chose to.

“The reality is I’d prefer a teenager to be vaccinated without parental consent than dead within a day," he told The Courier Mail.

"Meningococcal is a rare but awful disease that can kill or lead to brain damage or limb loss."

Dr Nespolon added that when a teenager approaches a General Practitioner for information, they would be encouraged to discuss their options with their parents but ultimately, the choice was theirs if they were assessed as being able to make sound autonomous decisions.

In New South Wales, anyone over 16 can receive vaccines from pharmacies. This change was introduced in January 2019, and permits the administration of vaccines for influenza, measles-mumps-rubella and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (whooping cough) for patients from the age of 16, without parental consent.

What do you think of the changes to the laws around vaccinations? Tell us in the comments below.

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