This document includes 31 states, and the District of Columbia, with laws allowing minors who are living on their own, including unaccompanied minors experiencing homelessness, to consent for routine health care, which should include vaccinations. Awareness and full implementation of these law are particularly critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a state is not listed, we did not find any law allowing minors living on their own to consent for routine health care, which means it is unlikely that unaccompanied homeless minors in that state will be able to receive such care or a vaccine without a parent or legal guardian.
This document does not address state laws that empower minors to consent to treatment for substance abuse, mental health, sexually transmitted diseases, or reproductive health. It also does not include laws that allow minors who are married, pregnant, or in the military to consent, or states with court cases subscribing to the “mature minor doctrine” (which typically is not applied in practice by most health care providers). Lastly, some states have laws allowing minors to consent for the diagnosis or treatment of contagious, infectious, or communicable diseases. While those laws should allow minors to consent for COVID-19 tests, they are unlikely to apply to vaccines, and therefore are not included in this document. Please contact Patricia Julianelle with questions or to share information about other state laws allowing minors to consent for routine health care.
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Any minor who is 14 years of age or older, or has graduated from high school, or is married, or having been married is divorced or is pregnant may give effective consent to any legally authorized medical, dental, health or mental health services for himself or herself, and the consent of no other person shall be necessary.
Alaska Stat. §25.20.025
A minor living apart from his or her parents and who is managing his or her own financial affairs, regardless of the source or extent of income, may give consent for medical or dental services
Ariz. Rev. Stat. §44-132
Any emancipated minor, any minor who has contracted a lawful marriage or any homeless minor may give consent to the furnishing of hospital, medical and surgical care to such minor, and such consent shall not be subject to disaffirmance because of minority. The consent of the parent, or parents, of such a person is not necessary in order to authorize hospital, medical and surgical care.
Ark. Code §20-9-602(7)
Any one of the following persons may consent, either orally or otherwise, to any surgical or medical treatment or procedure not prohibited by law that is suggested, recommended, prescribed, or directed by a licensed physician: (7) Any unemancipated minor of sufficient intelligence to understand and appreciate the consequences of the proposed surgical or medical treatment or procedures, for himself or herself; (14) a local educational agency McKinney-Vento homeless liaison for unaccompanied homeless youth.
Cal. Fam. Code §6922
(a) A minor may consent to the minor’s medical care or dental care if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(1) The minor is 15 years of age or older.
(2) The minor is living separate and apart from the minor’s parents or guardian, whether with or without the consent of a parent or guardian and regardless of the duration of the separate residence.
(3) The minor is managing the minor’s own financial affairs, regardless of the source of the minor’s income.
Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-22-103
A minor 14 years of age or older who is living separate and apart from his or her parent, parents, or legal guardian, with or without the consent of his or her parent, parents, or legal guardian, and is managing his or her own financial affairs, regardless of the source of his or her income may give consent to the furnishing of hospital, medical, dental, emergency health, and surgical care to himself or herself.
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Law L23-0193 (effective Mar. 16, 2021)
A minor age 11 or older may consent to receive a vaccine where the vaccination is recommended by the United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The law also establishes that if a minor is able to comprehend the need for, the nature of, and any significant risks inherent in the medical care then informed consent is established.
Fla. Stat. §743.067
Unaccompanied homeless youth 16 and older can consent for their or their children’s medical, dental, psychological, substance abuse and surgical diagnosis and treatment. Unaccompanied homeless status can be documented by a local educational agency McKinney-Vento homeless liaison, shelter, social worker, or court.
A licensed health care practitioner may provide primary medical care and services to a minor who consents to the primary medical care and services if the physician reasonably believes that:
(1) The minor understands the significant benefits and risks of the proposed primary medical care and services and can communicate an informed consent;
(2) The primary medical care and services are for the minor’s benefit; and
(3) The minor is at least 14 years of age and not under the care, supervision, or control of a parent, custodian, or legal guardian.
Idaho Code §39-4503
Any person who comprehends the need for, the nature of and the significant risks ordinarily inherent in any contemplated hospital, medical, dental, surgical or other health care, treatment or procedure is competent to consent thereto on his or her own behalf.
Ill. Stat. §410.210/1.5
Minors can consent for primary care services if:
(1) the health care professional reasonably believes the minor understands the benefits and risks of services; and
(2) the minor is identified in writing as a “minor seeking care” by an adult relative, homeless service agency, attorney, local educational agency McKinney-Vento homeless liaison or social worker, youth-serving social service agency, or religious organization.
“Minor seeking care” must be at least 14 years old, living separate and apart from his or her parents or legal guardian, whether with or without the consent of a parent or legal guardian, who is unable or unwilling to return to the residence of a parent, and managing his or her own personal affairs.
Ind. Code §16-36-1-3
A minor may consent to the minor’s own health care if the minor is:
(i) At least 14 years of age;
(ii) Not dependent on a parent for support;
(iii) Living apart from the minor’s parents or from an individual in loco parentis; and
(iv) Managing the minor’s own affairs.
Kan. Stat. §38-123b
Any minor 16 years of age or over, where no parent or guardian is immediately available, may give consent to hospital, medical or surgical treatment or procedures.
Louisiana Rev. Stat. §40:1079.1
Consent to the provision of medical or surgical care or services by a hospital or public clinic, or to the performance of medical or surgical care or services by a physician, licensed to practice medicine in this state, when executed by a minor who is or believes himself to be afflicted with an illness or disease, shall be valid and binding as if the minor had achieved his majority. Any such consent shall not be subject to a later disaffirmance by reason of his minority.
Me. Rev. Stat. §22:1503
A minor may give consent to all medical, mental, dental and other health counseling and services if the minor is living separately from parents or legal guardians and is independent of parental support. The minor may prove that status with documentation including, but not limited to a written statement from a nonprofit homeless services agency, local educational agency McKinney-Vento homeless liaison, or attorney.
Md. Code §20-102
A minor has the same capacity as an adult to consent to medical or dental treatment if the minor is living separate and apart from the minor’s parent, parents, or guardian, whether with or without consent of the minor’s parent, parents, or guardian and is self–supporting, regardless of the source of the minor’s income.
Mass. Gen. Laws §112:12F
Any minor may give consent to his medical or dental care at the time such care is sought if he is living separate and apart from his parent or legal guardian and is managing his own financial affairs
Minn. Stat. § 144.341
Any minor who is living separate and apart from parents or legal guardian, whether with or without the consent of a parent or guardian and regardless of the duration of such separate residence, and who is managing personal financial affairs, regardless of the source or extent of the minor’s income, may give effective consent to personal medical, dental, mental and other health services.
Rev. Stat. Mo. §431.056
A minor shall be qualified and competent to obtain medical care if the minor is 16 or 17 years of age, homeless or a victim of domestic violence, and self-supporting. The minor must be able to show that the minor’s parent or legal guardian has expressly or implicitly consented to the minor living independent of the parents’ or guardians’ control. To show this consent, the minor may provide a letter from a governmental or nonprofit homeless service agency, local educational agency McKinney-Vento homeless liaison, school social worker or counselor, or an attorney, among other forms of proof.
Mont. Code §41-1-402
A minor who professes to be or is found to be separated from the minor’s parent, parents, or legal guardian for whatever reason and is providing self-support by whatever means may consent to the provision of health services and to control access to protected health care information.
A minor may consent for medical treatment if the minor understands the nature and purpose of the proposed examination or treatment and its probable outcome, and voluntarily requests it. The minor must be living apart from his parents or legal guardian, with or without the consent of the parent, parents or legal guardian, for at least 4 months.
N.M. Stat. §24-7A-6.2
An unemancipated minor 14 years of age or older who has capacity to consent may give consent for medically necessary health care if the minor is living apart from the minor’s parents or legal guardian, or a parent.
SB 2265 (2021)
An unaccompanied homeless minor 14 years of age or older may consent to, contract for, and receive medical, dental, or behavioral health examinations, care, or treatment without permission, authority, or consent of a parent or guardian. Acceptable documentation demonstrating an individual is an unaccompanied homeless minor includes a statement documenting such status signed by:
A director or designee of a governmental or nonprofit entity that receives public or private funding to provide services to individuals who are homeless;
A local educational agency McKinney-Vento homeless liaison, foster care point of contact, school social worker or counselor;
An attorney representing the youth; or
The youth and two adults with knowledge of the youth’s actual circumstances.
Okl. Stat. §63-2602
Any minor who is separated from his parents or legal guardian for whatever reason and is not supported by his parents or guardian may consent to have services provided by health professionals.
Or. Rev. Stat. §109.640
A minor 15 years of age or older may give consent to hospital care, medical or surgical diagnosis or treatment by a physician, dentist, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner without the consent of a parent or guardian of the minor.
Penn. Stat. §35-10104
Medical, dental and health services may be rendered to minors of any age without the consent of a parent or legal guardian when, in the physician’s judgment, an attempt to secure consent would result in delay of treatment which would increase the risk to the minor’s life or health.
R.I. Gen. Laws §23-4.6-1
Any person age of 16 or over or married may consent to routine emergency medical or surgical care.
S.C. Code §63-5-350
Health services of any kind may be rendered to minors of any age without the consent of a parent or legal guardian when, in the judgment of a person authorized by law to render a particular health service, such services are deemed necessary unless such involves an operation which shall be performed only if such is essential to the health or life of such child in the opinion of the performing physician and a consultant physician if one is available.
Tex. Fam. Code §32.003
A child may consent to medical, dental, psychological, and surgical treatment for the child by a licensed physician or dentist if the child is 16 years of age or older and resides separate and apart from the child’s parents, managing conservator, or guardian, with or without the consent of the parents, managing conservator, or guardian and regardless of the duration of the residence, and is managing the child’s own financial affairs, regardless of the source of the income.
Utah Code §78B-3-406(6)(k)
An unaccompanied homeless minor who is 15 years of age or older may consent to any health care not prohibited by law.
Rev. Code Wa. §7.70.065
Informed consent for health care for a minor may be obtained from a school nurse, school counselor, or homeless student liaison when:
(A) Consent is necessary for nonemergency, outpatient, primary care services, including physical examinations, vision examinations and eyeglasses, dental examinations, hearing examinations and hearing aids, immunizations, treatments for illnesses and conditions, and routine follow-up care customarily provided by a health care provider in an outpatient setting, excluding elective surgeries;
(B) The minor meets the definition of a “homeless child or youth”; and
(C) The minor is not under the supervision or control of a parent, custodian, or legal guardian, and is not in the care and custody of the department of social and health services.
Wyo. Stat. §14-1-101
A minor may consent to health care treatment to the same extent as if he were an adult when the minor is living apart from his parents or guardian and is managing his own affairs regardless of his source of income.