England school children aged 12-15yrs to be offered COVID-19 vaccine
School children aged between 12 and 15 years will be offered a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine starting next week, the UK government has announced after the country's Chief Medical Officers gave their go-ahead for the jabs for younger age groups. National Health Service (NHS) is now preparing to deliver a school-based vaccination program.
Accepted recommendation from CMOs to expand vaccination: UK Health Secretary
This will be based on what the NHS says is their "successful model" used for vaccinations including for HPV and Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP), supported by General Practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacies. "I have accepted the recommendation from the Chief Medical Officers to expand vaccination to those aged 12 to 15 protecting young people from catching COVID-19," said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
Will move forward with the same sense of urgency: Javid
"I am very grateful for the expert advice I have received from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) and UK Chief Medical Officers," he said. "Our outstanding NHS stands ready to move forward with rolling out the vaccine to this group with the same sense of urgency we've had at every point in our vaccination program," Javid added.
Parental consent will be sought by vaccination healthcare staff
Parental, guardian, or carer consent will be sought by vaccination healthcare staff prior to vaccination in line with existing school vaccination programs. Healthy school-aged children aged 12 to 15 years will primarily receive their COVID-19 vaccination in their school with alternative provisions for those who are homeschooled, in secure services, or in specialist mental health settings.
Under 16s are not legally competent to make healthcare decisions
Under 16s are not automatically presumed to be legally competent to make decisions about their healthcare and, therefore, whether they should be given the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the UK courts have stated that under 16s will be competent to give valid consent to a particular intervention if they've sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand fully what is proposed, referred to as the Gillick Competence.
Gillick test to determine if a child understands the proposal
The DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care) said that the Gillick test provides that if a child under the age of 16 has sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand what is being proposed, care and treatment can be provided without parental consent. If a child is deemed as not competent, consent should be sought from a person with parental responsibility for COVID-19 vaccines.
Over four in five adults received both doses in UK
According to official NHS data, over four in five adults across the UK have received both COVID-19 vaccine doses, with over half of all 16 and 17-year-olds coming forward for their first jab.