The vaccine rollout for 12 to 15-year-olds will move with a ‘sense of urgency’, Minister Zahawi said, with the aim of curbing Covid infections before winter
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Children aged 12 and over will have the power to overrule their parents to decide whether or not they get jabbed, when the vaccine is offered to them from next week.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed today that children aged 12 to 15 will be offered one dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine from next week.
The rollout will move “with the same sense of urgency we’ve had at every point in our vaccination programme”, with the aim to curb infections before winter, he said.
He insisted “no one should be stigmatised” with this vaccination programme and parental consent will be needed for vaccinations of 12 to 15-year-olds.
But children can overrule parents who do not want them to get the jab, if they are deemed “competent”.
Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty also spoke at the briefing, confirming the government would be following recommendations that all young people within this age group be offered the vaccine “on public health grounds”.
Professor Whitty and other health chiefs said the benefits outweighed the risks, with the reduced risk of infection also acting to reduce the disruption to pupils’ education.
Addressing a complicated moral issue, Professor Whitty said children considered competent to make the decision for themselves will be able to do so.
The right belonging to a competent child, to choose their own healthcare, was enshrined in law in a landmark 1980s ruling.
The precedent, which is known as a Gillick competent , applies if “they’re believed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what’s involved in their treatment”, according to the NHS.
If a teenager is deemed competent to make a choice about their medical treatment “then that decision will go in the favour of what the teenager decides to do,” Zahawi has previously told TimesRadio.
Whitehall sources told The Sun that parents will receive a letter within days where they will be asked for their consent for the jabs.
This confirmation comes after the UK’s four chief medical officers recommended a universal rollout of the Pfizer jab to three million more children after concluding it would reduce outbreaks in schools.
They warned of the mental health impacts, particularly on children from deprived areas, of missing more classes this autumn and winter.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid accepted the advice meaning a mass rollout of jabs will begin on school grounds within days – but he was criticised for not starting it earlier.
Labour’s Florence Eshalomi told the Commons the black and ethnic minority community will be hesitant to encourage their children to take up the vaccine, and if there is up take up in schools “they will make sure their children aren’t in school that day”.
She asked what support will be available to properly inform the communities to ensure their kids are vaccinated.
Mr Zahawi said it’s important not to stigmatise any parent and added “there will be an extensive information programme that the school vaccination team will deliver and work with schools”.
Tory MP Steve Baker raised the point of stigmatisation once more in the Commons asking if a child’s vaccination status will affect their ability to receive an education equally with their peers.
The Vaccines Minister said “that will not be used in anyway” as the purpose of this is to “protect children”.
Local NHS teams are on standby to administer vaccines in portakabins in playgrounds, gyms and assembly halls converted into temporary vaccination centres.
Jabs such as HPV and Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio are already given in schools, supported by GPs and community pharmacies.
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