WASHINGTON — D.C. is considering a law that would allow minors to decide whether or not to get vaccinated.
For Kerri Johnston, a mother of three, doesn't believe minors should be given this option. She attended a hearing Wednesday to express her opposition to the bill.
"I’m here to oppose that bill, because I think it’s up to parents to decide what goes into our child’s bodies," Johnston said.
Johnston said she stopped vaccinating her kids after her eldest girl became sick.
"Her face went limp -- she had a 105 fever, she had severe symptoms -- the same night that she had her six month vaccine," Johnston said.
Councilor Mary Cheh said she’s pushing for the bill so children who are mature enough to make up their own minds can get the care they want.
D.C. draws travelers from all over the world, who often bring infectious disease with them. Cheh said it’s important for everyone in the district to have protection from the rising number of measles cases across the U.S., especially those who are most vulnerable.
"They rely on the fact that a large majority of the population have been immunized -- so they get that herd protection," Cheh said.
Cheh said her bill is even more urgent now, after a newly released report found rates of vaccinations have fallen among D.C. schoolchildren to just 85 percent.
According to research by the CDC, that falls below the 90 percent mark for herd protection against measles for those most vulnerable.
D.C. minors can already give consent for a lot of medical procedures, including birth control or abortion. The difference here? They can be younger than 12, if a pediatrician considers than mature enough.
Cheh expects the bill to go up for a vote in early fall.