Why the Government is Wrong to Claim 12 Year-Olds Are Competent to Consent to Covid Vaccination Against Their Parents’ Wishes

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that if a 12-15 year-old wishes to receive the jab and is judged to be “competent” then his or her decision would overrule the parents’ refusal for their child to be vaccinated. The Telegraph has more.

In an interview with Times Radio on Sunday morning, Mr. Zahawi was asked what NHS clinicians could do if a parent says no to their child being vaccinated but the teenager says yes.

He replied: “The NHS is really well practised in this because they’ve been doing school immunisation programmes for a very long time so 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.”

This idea that a 12 year-old can overrule his or her parents in a medical decision is based on the notion of Gillick competence, which derives from a 1985 House of Lords legal judgment (Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority) which provides that children under 16 may be able to consent to their own treatment if they are deemed to have sufficient intelligence, competence and understanding to appreciate fully what the treatment involves.

However, as the U.K. Medical Freedom Alliance (UKMFA) explains in a recent open letter, the judgment in Gillick makes it clear it is to apply only in exceptional cases.