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A judicial review has been brought by lawyers at Jackson Osborne which applied to Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice for an urgent order to challenge the temporary authorisation of the vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds which begins as part of a mass school rollout on Wednesday (September 22). A decision about whether there is an arguable case and, if so, should the rollout be paused until the case can be heard, is expected on Tuesday (September 21).
The challenge, which will present evidence from experts, doctors and scientists, will argue there is no legal, moral or medical justification for children to receive the covid jab. It will also argue the vaccine is novel and comes with associated risks such as potentially deadly heart inflammation ‑ myocarditis.
Stephen Jackson, the lawyer who is spearheading the case said: “This vaccine has been authorised for emergency use but the emergency is long over and for children there has never been an emergency.
“Healthy children do not benefit from this vaccination as children are not at risk from covid however they are at risk from its serious side effects such as paralysis (guillain barre syndrome) myocarditis and potential long term effects which we cannot yet know about.”
Last week England’s Chief Medical Officers authorised the use of Covid vaccinations to 12 to 15-year-olds after significant political and media pressure to approve it.
This move ran contrary to the government’s vaccine advisors, the Joint Council on Vaccination and Immunisation, which had concluded covid vaccine risks outweigh any potential benefits to healthy children in this age group.
However, Professor Chris Whitty, CMO for England justified the decision on the grounds that there were other benefits such as reducing the disruption to the school term.
Three million healthy 12 to 15-year-olds will tomorrow be offered the first dose as part of in-school vaccination services. A second dose has not been approved due to concerns about the risk of heart damage.
Children will be able to override parental consent raising fears some may be subject to peer or even school pressure to have the jab.
Last week Prof Adam Finn of the JCVI said that in normal times the Covid vaccine would not have been recommended for widespread use in children until the long-term consequences of rare side effects had been fully investigated.
The fallout continued last week amid concerns about the youngest children involved in the programme and parental consent.
Those under the age of 16 are able to get some medical procedures without consent if they are deemed competent to make that decision on their own.
This is checked by the so-called Gillick test, which assesses whether a child under the age of 16 has sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand what is being proposed.
If a child is not competent to give consent for themselves, consent should be sought from a person with parental responsibility.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said children will only be able to have a vaccination against their parents’ wishes following a meeting with a clinician.
But Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said he would not feel comfortable with a 12-year-old getting a jab if their parent had not consented.
Asked about a 12-year-old potentially taking up their offer of a jab if their parent had not consented, Prof Harnden told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I wouldn’t feel comfortable about that.
“I think we have to be really careful that we go by the law, and the law clearly states that the child and parent should try to come to an agreed conclusion.
“But if the child wants to go ahead or doesn’t want to go ahead and the parent feels absolutely the opposite, then the clinician involved in administering the vaccine needs to be absolutely sure that the child is competent to make that decision.”
He added: “There will be a grade of competency from the age of 16 downwards, so 14 to 15-year-olds may be deemed competent to make that decision on their own, (but) it’s less likely that a 12 or 13-year-old will be deemed competent.”
Mr Zahawi told Sky News: “On the very rare occasion where there is a difference of opinion between the parent and the 12 to 15-year-old, where the parent, for example, doesn’t want to give consent but the 12 to 15-year-old wants to have the vaccine, then the first step is the clinician will bring the parent and the child together to see whether they can reach consent.
“If that is not possible, then, if the child is deemed to be competent ‑ and this has been around since the ’80s for all vaccination programmes in schools ‑ if the child is deemed to be competent, Gillick competence as it is referred to, then the child can have the vaccine.
“But these are very rare occasions and it is very important to remember that the School Age Immunisation Service is incredibly well equipped to deal with this ‑ clinicians are very well versed in delivering vaccinations to 12 to 15-year-olds in schools.”
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