Vaccination of children aged 12 to 15 years should not be carried out in instances where one parent objects, according to legal advice provided to the HSE. A parent who objects to the vaccination of their child should make their objection known to the service in question, the advice states.
The clarification comes as part of a note on Legal Guardianship prepared by members of the National Consent for COVID‐ 19 Vaccination Working Group and as part of the rollout of the vaccination programme to young people.
As the vaccine roll out continues for those aged 12 to 15 years the HSE issued updated advice to staff on consent regarding vaccination and said that the child receiving the vaccine will be asked if they are happy to receive it.
“The vaccinator or your pharmacist will be able to answer questions you might have about the vaccine,” the HSE stated in response to a press query on the issue of parental consent.
“A parent or guardian may make an objection known by contacting a local vaccination centre or the child’s General Practitioner. When this happens, they should be asked for the child’s PPSN which will enable the objection to be registered on the information system,” legal advice provided to the HSE states.
However, the advice also points out that is it not possible to provide an absolute guarantee that notification of an objection will ensure that the child is not vaccinated ‘because of the way in which the vaccination rollout is delivered for the 12-15 year old cohort.’
In detailed advice for parents negotiating the decision of whether or not to have their child vaccinated, the HSE states that while the consent of one person with parental responsibility is sufficient to authorise vaccination, if the vaccinator is made aware of an objection from a parent or legal guardian then the vaccine should not be administered.
Parents are encouraged to discuss the issue and make efforts to resolve it.
However, if no agreement can be reached, ‘the matter may need to be resolved by the parents through the courts,’ according to HSE advice.
“Every reasonable effort should be made to avoid vaccination of a child where one parent or legal guardian has indicated that he or she objects to vaccination,” the advice states.
According to the latest data available, 124,000 teenagers in the 12 to 15 age group have been registered to receive a vaccine, with 72,000 first doses administered up to August 20, according to HSE CEO Paul Reid.
Parents are urged to look into the benefits and risks attached to the vaccination of young people, according to Dr Lucy Jessop, Director of Public Health at the National Immunisation Office (NIO)
“We’d strongly encourage parents to look at all the information that we have on the HSE.ie website on the benefits and risks of the vaccine and discuss as a family all the information that we have to make sure you make the right decision for your child,” Dr Jessop said.