Vaccinations for children aged 12 to 15 will be administered by School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS) teams that already carry out flu and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations in England. The role of schools will be limited to providing a site and distributing information and consent forms to pupils and parents.
In cases where parents withhold consent but the child wants to go ahead, the guidelines say the vaccination teams will determine if the child is able to make an informed decision – known as Gillick competence – and “make every effort to contact a parent to check before they proceed”.
What is Gillick Consent?
According to the NHS, Gillick competence is when children under the age of 16 “can consent to their own treatment if they’re believed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what’s involved in their treatment”.
“If a parent objects to their child being vaccinated but the child wants to be vaccinated and is judged to be Gillick competent, the healthcare professional will try to reach agreement between the parent and child. However, the parent cannot overrule the decision of a Gillick competent child,” the guidelines state. In that scenario the child will be vaccinated.
Children under the age of 16 can consent to their own treatment if they’re believed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what’s involved in their treatment. This is known as being Gillick competent.
Otherwise, someone with parental responsibility can consent for them.
This could be:
- the child’s mother or father
- the child’s legally appointed guardian
- a person with a residence order concerning the child
- a local authority designated to care for the child
- a local authority or person with an emergency protection order for the child
- A person with parental responsibility must have the capacity to give consent.
- If a parent refuses to give consent to a particular treatment, this decision can be overruled by the courts if treatment is thought to be in the best interests of the child.
- By law, healthcare professionals only need 1 person with parental responsibility to give consent for them to provide treatment.
- In cases where 1 parent disagrees with the treatment, doctors are often unwilling to go against their wishes and will try to gain agreement.
- If agreement about a particular treatment or what’s in the child’s best interests cannot be reached, the courts can make a decision.
- In an emergency, where treatment is vital and waiting for parental consent would place the child at risk, treatment can proceed without consent.
Voluntary single doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech being extended to vaccinate children aged 12-15
The UK’s chief medical officers this week decided to extend voluntary single doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to children aged 12 to 15, after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation had earlier said the benefits of immunising the age group were less certain than in older teenagers.
NHS foundation trusts have begun contacting schools to arrange on-site vaccination days, with some expecting to start seeking consent from parents shortly. Schools will be able to combine the Covid and flu vaccinations in a single visit.
Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he welcomed the guidance clarifying that legal accountability for offering vaccines was with the school immunisation service, after headteachers reported receiving letters from pressure groups.
“The guidance is absolutely clear that schools are not responsible for mediating between parents and children who may disagree about whether or not to consent. This is the role of registered nurses in the School Age Immunisation Service,” Barton said.
New guidelines deem 12 – 15 Year olds as ‘Gillick Competent’ by default
In early September 2021, guidance circulated to NHS trusts stated that most 12- to 15-year-olds should be deemed “Gillick competent to provide [their] own consent” to be vaccinated against COVID-19, despite the JCVI “failing to recommend Covid-19 vaccines for healthy 12- to 15-year-olds”
Now this in itself has dangerous implications. If a child is deemed to be Gillick competent, it would mean that your child can easily give up their consent through coercion using a tacit style agreement. Most children at the age of 12 can easily be manipulated and coerced into something no matter how intelligent that child may be. A child of 12 years old will never in most cases be a match for an adult with high IQ and an expert in communication skills and in the art of coercion. This can result in your child being convinced that he or she will need to be vaccinated and because of its urgency, or the urgent need to protect a friend, your child potentially will consent to the vaccination without asking or communicating with their parents.
What can parents do to ensure they keep their children from taking any vaccines?
So we have established that guidelines from the NHS now deem a child to be competent to give his or her consent from the age of 12. This can be seen in most cases as a tacit agreement.
Step 1 – Educate your child
To combat this, you as a parent would need to sit with your child and educate them about Covid 19 and educate them on the vaccination programme itself. If your child is intelligent and competent enough to understand a complex subject such as Vaccinations and what a vaccine entails. your child will no doubt be in a position to be able to make his or her own decision whether to take the vaccine or not.
So it would all be based on a child’s knowledge of a vaccine and what information the child has been exposed to. It would be your duty as a parent to educate your child on such topics.
Step 2 – Your child’s agreement
Draft a contract or an agreement between you and your child that withdraws any Gillick consent that has been placed on your 12 year old. If a child does not understand then a child will not be deemed competent to make a decision on whether he or she consents to any vaccines. This is how law works when it comes to consent and agreements. For a contract or an agreement to be valid and enforced it would need consideration which would be the understanding aspect of an agreement.
It doesn’t matter how you structure your agreement, what matters most is that you assert your child’s wishes to withdraw all types of consent. For example:
“I do not wish to receive any covid-19 vaccinations. I withdraw all my consent and do not give you or any medial service provider to inject me with any vaccines.”
You must sign the agreement with your child so that both signatures appear on the document. There are alot of credible sources out there that you can gather information from and educate your child on Covid-19 vaccinations. For example:
The vaccines are NOT giving 100%, warns Boris Johnson
JCVI issues updated advice on COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 12 to 15
Vaccinated people may spread virus, says Van-Tam
Dr Christina Parks Testimony (House Bill 4471)
Science and Useful Information (Verify such claims for your own evidence)
Being Fully vaccinated doesn’t mean immune to COVID-19
BBC presenter Lisa Shaw died of Covid vaccine complications, coroner finds:
Once a child can demonstrate that he or she understands the implications and information around vaccinations and covid-19, your child will be in a powerful position to choose for themselves whether they want to go ahead with being vaccinated or more importantly challenge a schools decision whether to be vaccinated or not.
Step 3 – Demonstrate your child’s will
To gain consent from a child, the school or medical provider will simply ask the child of they have been vaccinated and if they would like to be vaccinated. If a child says no, the medical examiner will most likely challenge your child and question them to ensure they actually understand and not saying no because they’ve been told to say so.
They may possibly attempt to coerce your child by saying they are not being responsible and are not protecting themselves or their friends. They may even use the narrative that if they want to make sure their best friends are safe and secure, they need to have the vaccine. The examiner may also tell your child that they have the power to make this decision themselves and its their choice, not that of their parent/carer, completely ignoring the fact that your child has informed them of their decision!
It is vital your child is aware of these scenarios.
Your child has already made a decision based on the discussions you have had. You can further discuss how it is important to stick by their decisions and by the school trying to challenge this, the school or medical practitioner is in fact treating your child as someone not capable of making their own informed choices. Teenagers notoriously see themselves as adults, not children, and often expect to be treated like adults. It’s important your child understands you are discussing this with them as an adult and provide them with credible sources for discussion. By doing so, you are giving them autonomy to make their own informed decision and the school or medical practitioner should respect this. They should understand that any attempt at coercion is disrespecting their decision and insulting their competence.
Although it is deemed that a child under the age of 16 and from 12 can consent to his or her medical treatment, their consent would be based solely on on a child’s competency of such a topic. If the child has no understanding of a medical condition, circumstance or topic. The child would not be deemed competent enough to make his or her own decision without the aid of their parents.
If the child has competency on such a topic, that child will than be deemed competent and sufficient to make their own decision without the aid or authority of their parents, regardless if the parent disapproves.
Knowledge and understanding of the situation, topic, and circumstances would be the main and only factor that would deem a child competent to make their own decision without your authority. The contract agreement written by you and your child acts overall precedent as this reflects and demonstrates your child’s wishes and will.
Children and their desire to be adults
Most children at some point in their life will mimic some form of adult behaviour and will expected to be treated like adults. They can feel insulted if they are not asked for their opinion or if they are not allowed to make their own decisions.
Because of this, your child may and in most cases will jump at the first chance to make a serious decision giving them the feeling that they are equals with their adult counterparts. This is why it is important to educate your child on such topics to give them the awareness that they need.
Other Useful Information
Regulation 11: Need for consent