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I was very concerned to read in the Telegraph that the NHS is now drawing up plans to vaccinate 12-15-year-olds, despite the JCVI’s statement that on 19th July that “The health benefits in this population are small, and the benefits to the wider population are highly uncertain. At this time, JCVI is of the view that the health benefits of universal vaccination in children and young people below the age of 18 years do not outweigh the potential risks.”
It was unclear what changed to cause the JCVI to open up the vaccination to 16-17-year-olds given their prior statement. Furthermore, it is even more troubling to read the suggestion in the article that the government has ‘lost patience ‘with the JCVI’s caution and is ploughing on regardless into ever-younger age groups. While the DHSC has denied having taken a decision, it seems fairly obvious from the NHS actions that it is a fait accompli. As we know by now, denials from the government turn into policy very quickly.
It is typical of the opaque decision-making that has been to the detriment of children’s needs – often resulting from political pressure. It is no way to make decisions of this nature, ultimately undermining vital confidence in public health.
As parents, we ought to be given full transparency and be assured that responsible bodies such as the JCVI are free from political coercion and that the government is not simply going to ride roughshod over them to pursue its political objectives. Our children deserve better.
Even more shocking is the message reported in the Telegraph from the NHS trust that:
‘Most 12 to 15-year-olds should be deemed “Gillick competent to provide own consent” over jabs.’
This is utterly unacceptable. There is no prospect given the coercive messaging we have already seen in the community and in schools themselves that 12-15-year-olds will be able to provide informed consent, free of pressure. It is a medical decision for a vaccination that the JCVI acknowledges has a finely balanced risk-benefit profile – at best. How could that possibly be articulated to a 12-year-old and allow them to weigh up those risks and benefits? There is no prospect that informed consent’s free and voluntary aspects can be satisfied- especially not in a school environment.
For the last 18 months, the government has demanded that parents collude in harmful policies for their children, such as keeping them away from sports, spending extended time on screens for home learning, and repeated isolations from school. Is the government with parliament as complicit bystanders determined to remove all parental authority and responsibility? Do you support this trajectory?
I have several requests for you today:
- Please call upon the DHSC, the Chief Medical Officer, and the JCVI to hold an urgent press conference to explain the rationale for this decision directly to parents and children so we can understand how they believe this will benefit them? As I have mentioned before, the mitigation of disruption to schooling is not an actual benefit- since school closure and disruption is an unjustifiable political choice in the context of a protected adult population.
- Request from the DHSC that a FULL quantification of the risks and benefits of the COVID vaccine for schoolchildren is urgently put into the public domain. This quantification would need to be available as the bedrock of any informed consent- if the government has any interest at all in enabling it.
- Request from the DHSC that the latest communications from the JCVI to them about the vaccination programme for 12-15-year-olds are put into the public domain.
- Ask for confirmation from the DHSC on their position on parental consent for vaccination for 12-15-year-olds.
This government seems to have completely lost its way and is displaying blatant contempt for children, parents and families.