Headteachers threatened with legal action if schools take part in Covid jab programmes

13 September 2021, 22:35

The vaccine rollout to 12 to 15-year-olds will take place in schools if the advice from Government advisers is accepted
The vaccine rollout to 12 to 15-year-olds will take place in schools if the advice from Government advisers is accepted. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Headteachers are receiving letters from pressure groups "threatening" legal action if schools take part in any Covid-19 vaccination programmes.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said that the Government must "be really clear" that school staff will not be making decisions about vaccination consent.

"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-19 vaccination programme," said Mr Barton.

"This is extremely unhelpful and we would ask those involved in this correspondence to stop attempting to exert pressure on schools and colleges.

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"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."

He added: "It is very important that the Government is really clear that our members are not going to be in any way making decisions about consent and all of that kind of stuff."

The UK's four chief medical officers (CMOs) said on Monday that children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a first dose of the Pfizer jab, a conclusion that the government later said it had accepted and would begin implementing.

It is expected that vaccinations will be given through schools.

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Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, has called on the Government to confirm that questions about consent for pupils offered a jab will be solely handled by medical teams.

He said: "Now that a decision has been made, 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."

He said a delay in the Government confirming this would put school leaders in an "impossible position of facing questions to which they simply do not have the answers", and that schools must simply be left to "focus on their core task of providing education to pupils".

Last week, schools minister Nick Gibb said it was their plan to give children Covid-19 vaccinations in schools if the Government decided to offer jabs to 12 to 15-year-olds.

Mr Gibb told MPs that parental consent will "always be sought" before children are vaccinated in school, but he said that in "rare" circumstances teenagers can consent to receiving the jab themselves.