Students don’t need their parents signature to get a vaccine at school: WECHU
A Windsor parent is upset to learn children as young as 12 can ask for a vaccine, without parental consent.
“I didn’t know this, as a parent,” says Windsorite Melinda (who asked to not have her last name used).
Melinda, mom of four children, noticed discussion on social media about a mobile vaccine clinic being held at St Joseph’s High School Friday.
“If you want to get it, I’m in full support,” says Melinda. “My parents are fully vaccinated as seniors. That is the best choice for them. It just doesn’t seem like the best choice for my family.”
Melinda’s concern is the issue of consent, by students in a school setting, without their parents around.
She worries younger children might be swayed by their teachers or health unit nurses, into agreeing to get a COVID vaccine because children might not want to disappoint their superiors.
“How do you know that that 12 year is not consenting under duress, that that 12 years (old) is not following along with the adults in the building because they don’t have a family advocate there?” questions Melinda.
In a statement to CTV News, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit officials confirm “all individuals over the age of 12 provide informed consent verbally prior to receiving the vaccine. There is no signature required by any eligible persons regardless of age.”
WECHU executive director Nicole Dupuis says in-school clinics are just another opportunity for students to get vaccinated, “to help prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in schools.”
The statement also reads:
“COVID-19 vaccines are provided through the process of informed consent. At the time of vaccination, immunizing staff will provide education and answer questions on the benefits and risks of the vaccine prior to administration. This applies to all eligible individuals including those aged 12 and over as long as they have the capacity to make this decision.
This means that they understand:
- what vaccination involves
- why it is being recommended
- the risks and benefits of accepting or refusing to be vaccinated
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit understands and respects youth’s right to consent to healthcare and recommends that all youth (aged 12-17) speak about this decision with a parent, guardian, or an adult they trust. If youth are not able to consent to receiving the vaccine, they require consent from a substitute decision-maker, such as a parent or legal guardian.”
Spokesperson for the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board, Steve Fields, says they are “absolutely not” going class by class to encourage students to get a vaccine.
He says the mobile vaccine bus parks in the lot, and a team sets up in the gymnasium inside and waits for students to come to them.
“All those students had to do, if they decided to take advantage of that was simply to inform their teacher, go down to the office, get an attendance clinic.” Says Fields
Fields adds the WECDSB left voice messages with parents and sent a letter home, with advance notice of the clinic so families have time to make a decision.
“Anyone 12 or older who’s eligible to be vaccinated, can provide consent.” Says Fields. “But our message to parents is very very simple, have that conversation with your children and decide as a family what it is that you want to do.”
If a mobile clinic pops-up in another school in the future, Fields encourages parents to call the principal and advise if do not want their child to be vaccinated.
Whether the child consents or not, Fields says the information of the parents’ wishes will be relayed to the team working the vaccine clinic.
“Those health unit nurses who are administering the vaccines are trained on being able to determine whether or not a student is able to provide consent and if they’re not, then they have to be have consent from a substitute parent or guardian,” he says.