Teenagers will be able to override their parents’ decision on whether to get jabbed, a minister suggested today.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said in some “rare” circumstances children will be able to consent themselves when they are in disagreement with their parents.
He said parental consent will “always be sought” but there may be times when they disagree with their child - who is competent to make their own decision.
The minister also said they would be able to vaccinate the whole 12-15 year old population “very swiftly” if granted the go-ahead by the chief medical officer.
He told the education select committee: “The consent from parents will always be sought before the child is vaccinated in the school.”
Asked what would happen if parents and children disagree, he replied: “In some circumstances, and it is rare, children can consent themselves if they are competent to do so. The people administering vaccines in schools are aware of these sensitive issues.”
Gibb stressed the issue was “not new” and referred to a precedent known as Gillick competence, which allows children under the age of 16 to consent to their own treatment if they are believed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding of what is involved.
Gibb added: “What would happen in those circumstances, is that there will be discussions between the school and the parent in resolving those issues.”
When it was put to him that Gillick competence is geared towards narrower issues rather than a mass vaccination programme for healthy children, he replied: “These are issues that the school age immunisation service are aware of.
“These are experienced practitioners who know how to deal with these issues and there will be further advice on these issues.”
It comes as plans to vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds are expected to be pushed through by ministers this week.
The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation [JCVI] last week refused to give full approval for the vaccine for use on 12 to 15 year olds.
However, the UK’s chief medical officers are expected to decided later this week whether or not to overrule the expert JCVI advice.