Does the UK use implied consent for vaccinations in schools?

Misunderstandings have arisen as a result of the 2014 WHO document

 “Considerations regarding consent in vaccinating children and adolescents between 6 and 17 years old”

The document states clearly:

Consent is the principle wherein individuals must give their permission before receiving a medical intervention or procedure. According to the laws and regulations in place in most countries, consent is required for a range of medical interventions or procedures, from a simple blood test to organ donation, and including vaccinations. In only very few, well-described circumstances, such as life-threatening emergencies, may consent be waived. Consent derives from the principle of autonomy and forms an important part of medical and public health ethics, as well as international law*. To be valid, it must be informed, understood and voluntary, and the person consenting must have the capacity to make the decision….

WHO implied consent
However, it also introduces the idea of implied consent, beside written and verbal consent.

An implied consent process [is a process] by which parents are informed of imminent vaccination through social mobilization and communication, sometimes including letters directly addressed to the parents. Subsequently, the physical presence of the child or adolescent, with or without an accompanying parent at the vaccination session, is considered to imply consent….

 

It has been wrongly suggested that implied consent is being used in UK schools and this has been causing great distress. Implied consent is not used in the UK. 
In fact the WHO discourages the use of implied consent.

However, there are other issues which parents must be aware of if their children attend school on the day of vaccination. There have been many reports of children being wrongly vaccinated in school with the Fluenz (live influenza) vaccine without parental consent, including hospitalization due to asthma contraindication and one financial award paid out by a private immunization team. Some are due to mistaken identity, some due to misreading the consent form and others due to poor administration (the wrong line of children were taken for vaccines for example.) This situation is made even more difficult if schools do not disclose the date of vaccination day to parents in advance. In secondary schools teenagers can usually consent to vaccinations themselves, assuming the consent is informed and given freely.

 


*Convention on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 4 (CRC/C/GC/4, 1 July 2003) and No. 15 (CRC/C/GC/15, 17 April 2013)