COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the Times radio that British teenagers would still be allowed to get a COVID-19 vaccination, even if their parents objected, as long as they consented to the jab.
Zahawi explained that thanks to its long history of carrying out school-related vaccinations, that the NHS is well-equipped to make these types of decisions. So long as the clinicians on hand determine that the teen is mentally competent to make a decision related to vaccination, then they would be free to move ahead and administer one, Zahawi explained.
He told Newton Dunn during the Sunday interview that “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 favor of what the teenager decides to do.”
To try and draw Zahawi out, Dunn pushed for more clarification: “So to be clear, the teenager can override the lack of parental consent? If a teenager really wants a jab and is only 15, the parents say no, the teenager can have it?” to which Zahawi responded, “they would need to be competent to make that decision, with all of the information available.”
Bizarrely, Zahawi appeared to contradict himself when he spoke to Sky News on Sunday and told them that children would require parental consent to get vaccinated no matter what.
Asked by Sky’s Trevor Phillips whether he could “assure parents that if there is a decision to vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds, it will require parental consent,” Zahawi replied: “I can give that assurance, absolutely.”
For context, On Friday (just two days before Zahawi’s spate of interviews) the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization refused to recommend on Friday that healthy children between the ages of 12 and 15 be vaccinated against COVID-19, given they are considered extremely low risk, the government is still pushing for vaccination.
JCVI’s deputy chairman, Professor Anthony Harnden, noted on Saturday that “the health benefits from vaccinating well 12- to 15-year-olds” are only “marginally greater than the risks,” and said that any decision should ultimately require “parents’ consent.”
“Both the teenagers and the parents need to be involved in that choice,” he argued.
On Friday, protesters stormed the London headquarters of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in protest of the government’s likely intention to vaccinate children under the age of 16.