Children will be able to overrule parents and get Covid jab, says minister

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Students arriving at St Andrew’s RC Secondary School in Glasgow (PA)
Students arriving at St Andrew’s RC Secondary School in Glasgow (PA)

Children will be able to overrule their parents and get the coronavirus vaccine if they are deemed “competent” to do so, a minister revealed on Sunday.

Parents of healthy 12 to 15-year-olds will be asked for consent if Covid jabs are approved for their children.

However, Nadhim Zahawi has admitted the youngsters could go against their parents’ wishes “if they’re deemed to be competent to make that decision with all the information available”.

The vaccines minister told Times Radio: “What you essentially do is make sure that the clinicians discuss this with the parents, with the teenager, and if they are then deemed to be able to make a decision that is competent, then that decision will go in the favour of what the teenager decides to do.”

However Mr Zahawi also told Sky News that he could guarantee parental consent would be required.

“I can give that assurance, absolutely,” he said.

The government is yet to decide whether to vaccinate healthy 12 to 15-year-olds against Covid-19.

Last week, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) ruled that there was some benefit to children’s health for over 12s to get the vaccine.

But it decided against backing a national rollout on health grounds alone because the virus presents a low risk to younger teenagers.

Professor Chris Whitty and the UK’s three other chief medical officers are now reviewing the wider benefits of vaccinating the age group, such as helping to stop the spread of the virus and minimising school absences.

It will be down to them to make the final call and their findings are expected to be announced within days.

Ministers have indicated they are keen to authorise a wider rollout although Dowining Street is awaiting their advice before making a final decision.

On Friday, the JCVI approved a widening of the vaccination programme to another 200,000 children aged between 12 and 15 who have underlying health conditions.

They stopped short of recommending the full rollout after investigating potential side-effects, such as the extremely rare events of inflammation of the heart muscle, known as myocarditis, after Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations.

While the condition can result in short periods of hospital observation, followed by typically swift recoveries, the JCVI concluded that the medium to long-term outcomes are still uncertain and more follow-up time is needed to get a clearer picture.

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