An adolescent should be able to determine if they should receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Adolescents should be able to decide whether or not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
I agree that an adolescent should be able to decide whether or not to receive the Covid-19 Vaccine. According to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) Practice Guideline, there is no minimum age for giving consent under the Health Care Consent Act (HCCA), as long as the patient has the capacity to do so. Capacity is defined as the patient’s understanding of the risks and benefits of the procedure, as well as the consequences once the final decision has been made (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2017).
Adolescents providing consent for themselves, according to Mihaly et al. (2022), involve autonomy, which supports the right to consent when adolescents have the mental capacity to understand all relevant information to make a decision. The authors also stated that by the age of 12, teenagers had the intellectual capacity to consent to the research on their own (p. 608). One of the ethical principles identified by Kozier et al. (2018) for healthcare providers to use when dealing with ethical problems was autonomy. Respecting people, treating them as unique individuals, and respecting their right to choose is what autonomy entails (p. 73).
With the Covid-19 pandemic, most adolescents have been seen arriving at vaccine clinics with their parents to be immunized, as per some clinics’ parental consent policy. Some adolescents, however, are unable to receive immunizations because their parents are anti-vaccination. Mihaly et al. (2022) reported the occurrence of contagious disease outbreaks in recent years as a result of parental vaccine resistance. Given the high prevalence of Covid-19 infection, parents’ actions will put teenagers at risk of becoming infected and spreading the virus (p. 609). According to the government of Canada’s Covid-19 vaccination report, the percentage of completion of the primary series and first booster dose is the lowest for the 12-17 years age group compared to the adult age group, and the rate of completion of the first booster dose is much lower than the rate of completion of the primary series for 12-17 years (Government of Canada, 2022). The reason for this is that public health implemented rules requiring Covid-19 vaccination proof of primary series participation in various activities.
Buchanan (2022) argued that because adolescents have a very clear understanding of low-medical decisions, they should be able to provide consent for themselves for certain types of health care, including vaccination. Healthcare providers only need to ensure that adolescents are not making decisions that are beyond their intellectual capacity, as they are still developing risk assessment skills, and Covid-19 vaccination is not such a medical decision (pp. 68-69). Morgan et al. (2021) also found that some older adolescents have a better understanding of the vaccine’s risks and benefits than their parents (p. 995). Perry et al. (2017) demonstrated that adolescents developed the cognitive processes described by Piaget’s theory, were able to think beyond the present moment, and were aware of the consequences of their actions. They also gain a better understanding of formal logic and scientific reasoning (p. 1141).
Finally, we must respect adolescents’ autonomy and allow them to advocate for their own health. Adolescents develop the cognitive ability to self-determine their health at this age. With scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, immunization is an excellent way to provide additional protection for teenagers and others, preventing them from being hospitalized following a Covid-19 infection.

References
C. A. Buchanan (2022). Protecting Adolescents from COVID-19 Will Require Counseling Skeptical Parents Until Adolescents Can Consent for Vaccination. 68-70 in the American Journal of Bioethics. https://doi.org/10.1080/15265161.2021.2001097
Ontario College of Nurses (2017). Consent is a practice guideline. https://www.cno.org/globalassets/docs/policy/41020 consent.pdf
The Canadian government (2022). COVID-19 vaccination is available in Canada.
https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/vaccination-coverage/
B. Kozier, G. L. Erb, A. Bergman, S. J. Snyder, and L. L. Stamler (2018). Concepts, Process, and Practice in Canadian Nursing Pearson.
L. K. Mihaly, N. A. Schapiro, and A. English (2022). Adolescent Autonomy and Minor Consent for Vaccines: From Human Papillomavirus to COVID-19 607-610 in Journal of Pediatric Healthcare. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedhc.2022.06.007
L. Morgan, J. L. Schwartz, and D. A. Sisti COVID-19 Vaccination of Minors Without Parental Consent: Promoting Emerging Autonomy and Public Health JAMA Pediatrics, 175(10), 995–996. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.1855
Perry, S. E., Hockenberry, M. J., Lowdermilk, D. L., Wilson, D., & Sams, C. A. (2017). Nursing care for mothers and their children in Canada. Elsevier.

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