Government must confirm process of vaccinating young teens

School leaders have commented on the recommendation of the chief medical officers to offer Covid-19 vaccinations to 12 to 15-year-olds, urging that the process is undertaken purely by medical professionals, and that issues about consent are taken up with medical teams.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “It is essential that the government immediately confirms that the process surrounding vaccinations will be run and overseen entirely by the appropriate medical teams. Where parents have questions, including about important matters such as consent, these must be handled by those same medical teams. There must be no delay in confirming this otherwise school leaders will be put in an impossible position of facing questions to which they simply do not have the answers.

“We are hearing reports of threatening letters being sent to school leaders urging them not to allow their school buildings to be used for vaccination, but these letters are misguided – it is not school leaders’ decision to make, it is the government’s and the NHS. School leaders are being put in an invidious position, stuck between parents, pupils and pressure groups, all while simply working to carry out their national duty.

“Schools must be allowed to focus on their core task of providing education to pupils. We would expect detailed guidance to be published by government clarifying all this without delay.”

Commenting on the recommendation of the chief medical officers to offer Covid-19 vaccinations to 12 to 15-year-olds, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We have been in discussion with the Department for Education over the role of schools in England in vaccinations, and it is absolutely clear that this will be limited to hosting vaccination sessions and related administrative tasks. The vaccinations will be administered by healthcare staff and any disagreements over the question of consent between children and parents, which is likely to be extremely rare in practice, will be resolved by healthcare staff. Schools are well-versed in hosting NHS vaccination sessions as they already do this in relation to other vaccines.

“Many of our members have been receiving letters from various pressure groups threatening schools and colleges with legal action if they take part in any Covid vaccination programme. This is extremely unhelpful and we would ask those involved in this correspondence to stop attempting to exert pressure on schools and colleges. The question of whether or not to offer vaccinations to this age group has clearly been thoroughly considered and the decision on whether or not to accept this offer is a matter for families.

“Data from the Office for National Statistics indicates that most parents would be likely to accept a Covid-19 vaccine for their child with around 86% reporting they would definitely or probably say yes to them having a vaccine. In comparison, 6% of secondary school parents said they would definitely not want their child to have a vaccine.”

Read more