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Helen Stalford, Aoife Daly and Kerry Barry.
“COVID vaccines for under-16s: why competent children in the UK can legally decide for themselves” The Conversation
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The UK has become the latest country to offer COVID-19 vaccines to all children aged 12 to 15, following many others including France, Germany, the US, Canada and Japan. The UK government has said that parental consent will be sought for vaccinations, but that children can consent themselves (without parents) if deemed competent. This has drawn heated debate. But the law on consent to medical treatment for under-16s is actually well established. Medical practitioners are authorised to assess a child’s competence to understand a treatment and consent to it, then to administer that treatment. This can take place even without the parents’ knowledge, provided that it is in the child’s best interests, and the children are what is known as “Gillick-competent”.
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