One mother said: “Healthy children do not need a Covid jab.”
Pressure group Lawyers for Liberty has threatened legal action against head teachers if they take an active part in the programme.
The Government says pupils will get the final say on having a jab, as long as they are judged to understand the decision they are making.
This “Gillick competence” concept is used for other treatment. But some experts, parents and school leaders have expressed concerns.
Molly Kingsley, co-founder of children’s rights body UsForThem, said: “This just shouldn’t be happening.
“Gillick was never intended for something like vaccination, it was intended as safeguarding a decision where there would be consequences were a child not given a treatment.
“There won’t be here. Healthy children do not need a Covid jab.”
The UK’s four chief medical officers backed the vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds. Health benefits are said to be “marginal” but any protection may reduce disruption to schooling caused by Covid.
Lawyers for Liberty (LfL) wrote to schools: “If a parent communicates to you that their child will not be included in the vaccination programme or does not provide consent, then that decision must be respected, without any further consequences for the child, including director indirect discrimination.
“Failure to do so may result in possible legal claims.”
The letter, on the LfL website, warns if schools do not involve parents in vaccinations there may be “significant ramifications” if a pupil “suffers harm, injury or loss”.
Prof Anthony Harnden, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said: “If the child wants to go ahead, or doesn’t want to go ahead, and the parent feels absolutely the opposite then the clinician involved in administering the vaccine needs to be absolutely sure that the child is competent to make that decision.”
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said children could have a jab against their parents’ wishes only after meeting a clinician: “The clinician will bring the parent and the child together to see whether they can reach consent.”
Dr Alasdair Munro, a researcher in paediatric infectious diseases at Southampton University, said: “This is not mandatory.
“Young people and their families have the right to opt in or out.”
COMMENT BY MOLLY KINGSLEY
It has been 24 hours since the announcement of the Chief Medical Officer’s decision that 12-15 year olds would be jabbed.
I am still struggling to understand how the conditions for this to be a voluntary programme can be met.
In the words of Chris Whitty, information as to risk-benefit would need to be presented in a way that is “accessible to children and young people as well as their parents”; and parents and children must not be “stigmatised either for accepting, or not accepting, the vaccination offer”.
Yet there is no sign of the kind of honest and transparent presentation and quantification of risks as well as benefits that would satisfy Whitty’s test.
I am left with an uneasy feeling we are treading far too close to a dark path.
It is not enough to tell parents to “trust the CMO”.
If the Government is so sure this is a lawful programme they must earn this trust by accepting full responsibility for the rollout – and it’s consequences.
- Molly Kingsley is co-founder of children’s rights body UsForThem