A call for responsibility in media coverage, internet content and social media administration.


First published in September 2021.


In the face of some confusing press coverage we wish to assert confidence in the ethical framework which exists around vaccination, and call on all media outlets, online content creators, social media networks and Facebook group administrators to take a careful approach to this subject.

As members of a responsible social media community, we consider it vital that misinformation be challenged, and that everyone – including parents and young people – have access to accurate information, particularly in relation to matters of health. Sadly it would seem that not all online communities, individuals and news outlets take this responsibility as seriously as we do, but we are grateful to those who hold genuine motivations to accurately inform the public.

NHS advice confirms that parental consent will be sought, but that the status of Gillick Competence will apply to the majority of children aged 12-15 in respect of vaccination. This is a position which vaccines minister Mr Zahawi has confirmed, and which reflects the right of young people to give informed consent to their own medical treatment, provided that they have the necessary intelligence, competence and understanding to do so. This well established legal principle is applicable to all medical treatment, irrespective of a consensus between the young person and their parent or carer.

We consider it misleading to suggest – or to endorse the suggestion – that clinicians or our meticulously regulated health care system would seek to administer vaccination without clear consent procedures which reference the legal and ethical frameworks which underpin safe and fair clinical practice. We call on online content developers, and the operators of social media platforms, media outlets and Facebook groups to consider with care their responsibilities in relation to this matter.

Frameworks for medical consent act in part to protect the inalienable rights of young people to make an informed choice in matters concerning their own medical treatment, as befits their ability to properly understand the implications of any treatment. We agree that this is morally correct, and have every confidence in our young people to make decisions which reflect their own best interests in respect of vaccination, with the support of those who love them.

Parents have a critical role in helping their children develop their understanding and ability to give informed consent. We encourage all parents of young people aged 12 and over to provide their child with good quality information on vaccination, in order that they understand the facts and can take an active role in the consent process.

We would recommend that parents and young people consider evidence from reliable and competent sources, both with respect to vaccine safety and the importance of minimising disruption to education. We also call upon the UK government to ensure such resources are readily available and seen by their intended audience


If you would like to sign this letter please click here.




Signatories

Online Community Administrators

  • Gemma Sewell, Co-Founder of Parents United UK
  • Amy Wolfs, Parents United UK Head of Learning Support
  • Stacey McGann, Admin at One Voice Support Group
  • Bex Hopkins, Admin at One Voice Support Group
  • Lisa Clark, Admin at One Voice Support Group
  • Tony Dadd, Founder at Parents United UK
  • Miss Catherine Wilson BA(hons) Applied social studies in social care, Volunteer Parent Support Manager, Parents United UK
  • Linda Richards, Parents United UK Team Member
  • David Lawrence, Parents United UK Team Member
  • Jenny Stow, Page Administrator at Parents United UK

Parents and Carers

  • Gemma Sewell
  • Miss Catherine Wilson
  • Jenny Stow
  • Laura Davies
  • Sonia Driscoll
  • Helen Green
  • Mickyla Harrison
  • Meryl O'Rourke
  • Dr. Sarah Peake
  • James Lowes
  • Kathryn Bentley
  • Rachel Noble
  • Richard knights
  • V Bailey
  • Zoe Millward
  • Georgina Duncan
  • David Bailey
  • Becky Sparks
  • T Mansell
  • M Oak
  • Julie Cullane
  • Laura Thompson
  • Dr Claire Hawkins
  • E Beddoes
  • Don MacKeen
  • Sonia Millington
  • Uttam Rajoria
  • Jolanda Gjoni
  • Ali Kirkwood
  • Alison Wake
  • Eve Mackay
  • Claire Hastie
  • Ellen Hamilton
  • Samantha Towler
  • C Williamson
  • Joanna Robinson
  • Claire Law
  • Sam McKean
  • Mrs Marielle Evans

Grandparents

  • Marian Gillies
  • Gayle Morris
  • K. Pope
  • Sue Chubb
  • Lis Reid

Clinicians

  • Dr Alison George, GP & Honorary GP in Emergency Medicine
  • Laura Thompson, Nurse

Educators

  • Karam Bales, Teacher
  • Mrs Marielle Evans, former Teacher




— AUTHORS —

Parents United, grassroots, parent-led campaign for a sensible, safe, and sustainable approach to UK Schools.


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[This piece was originally published by Parents United UK and re-published in PMP Magazine on 7 Sept 2021, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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