A doctor violated the law by administering COVID-19 vaccines to children without consent, according to a new lawsuit.
Dr. Janine Rethy, chief of community pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, is being accused of holding two children in a room until she convinced them to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The minors are both children of NaTonya McNeil, a Washington resident who brought the suit in D.C. Superior Court.
“Ms. McNeil’s two minor children were held in a room by Defendant until she overcame their will and forcibly vaccinated them while physically preventing them from consulting with their mother, who was right outside the room,” the 9-page suit states.
The children were also allegedly provided with “false and fraudulent information” in order to get their purported consent to administer the vaccines.
Rethy told the kids that they had to get a COVID-19 vaccine to attend school and that they could not legally decline vaccination, according to the filing.
The kids gave in when given the false information.
Rethy and MedStar did not respond to requests for comment.
McNeil took the children to Rethy for annual physical examinations on Sept. 2, 2022.
The location was the Georgetown Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which is operated by the Georgetown University Hospital, at a recreation center. Rethy is director of the mobile clinic.
McNeil waited outside with her 1-year-old child while the two other kids went inside. But she called her daughter’s cell phone soon after and asked to speak with the doctor. McNeil told Rethy she was outside and available if needed to answer questions or provide information.
Rethy never asked McNeil about any vaccinations, according to the suit.
The 16-year-old child, who attends Dunbar High School, went first. Rethy “came at me with a needle,” the girl was quoted as saying. Rethy, asked what the injection was, said it was a COVID-19 vaccine. The minor said she did not want the shot.
“Dr. Rethy told K.M. that the injection was required for her to attend school, and then injected the needle,” the suit states. The younger child, 14, “also reluctantly agreed to accept the injection after seeing his sister be injected, although he had repeatedly refused COVID-19 injections previously as well.”
“Both children were very upset and angry that they had been coerced into being injected,” the filing states.
Rethy also injected the children with a meningococcal vaccine.
Neither Rethy nor clinic staff provided information about the vaccinations to McNeil or the children, the suit says. Rethy did speak with McNeil, but only told her she was going to call a prescription for the asthma of one of the children.
McNeil learned of the vaccinations from the children on the way home. McNeil was shocked.
“Ms. McNeil is strongly opposed to her children receiving injections against COVID-19, for several reasons, and would never have provided consent for her children to be injected. Specifically, in the case of the COVID-19 injections, she was particularly concerned with the experimental nature of the injections and with the very short testing period to evaluate their safety,” the suit states.
The COVID-19 vaccines were tested for only several months before receiving emergency use authorization. Side effects include heart inflammation, which particularly affects young people.
McNeil is opposed to other vaccinations, including influenza, according to the suit. Her children were also opposed to receiving the COVID-19 vaccines and had refused them multiple times before the incident. The boy said he was so opposed that he would stop playing football rather than get vaccinated to play.
COVID-19 vaccinations were not required for school attendance at the time of the visit and the forms completed by Rethy stated the vaccinations were recommended, not required.
Washington required COVID-19 vaccines for school attendance ahead of the 2022-23 school year but pushed the deadline into 2023 for students to get vaccinated after a federal judge in August 2022 struck down vaccination requirements for city workers. The city has since pushed the deadline back to the start of the 2023-24 school year.
The suit accuses Rethy of battery, false imprisonment, and fraud. It seeks damages and a jury trial.
Rethy is among the health care professionals who are ardently pro-vaccination.
“Our goal is to increase vaccination rates in children here in D.C.,” she said in August 2022.
“For more than 30 years our role has been to be in the community to help address the problem of health disparities, bringing families care where they are. For this particular effort we are glad to be partnering with DC Health to provide both regular childhood vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines to all children,” she added.
Rethy was speaking as the mobile clinic she directs partnered with Washington health officials to provide free COVID-19 vaccinations to children and their families as the new school year started.
Rethy said in 2021 that “we feel like this vaccine is safe and effective and the risks of taking the vaccine are lower than the risks of getting the disease itself and spreading it to others in the community.” That view has increasingly been challenged as the effectiveness of the vaccines is much lower against Omicron and its subvariants, which emerged in late 2021, and as more side effects and potential side effects have been identified.