Consent form has already generated debate
The Sindh government has ended the requirement of parental consent for vaccinating children under 15 years of age against the Covid-19 coronavirus. Additionally, vaccination for all children has been declared mandatory in the province, SAMAA TV reported on Thursday.
Sindh Health Department has also decided to administer booster shots to health workers as a third dose. Health workers would be jabbed with the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine.
The government began a vaccination drive for underage students on September 6 after deciding that the students of grades nine, 10, 11, and 12 would be vaccinated. However, the drive was halted in Karachi due to vaccine unavailability.
The government initially planned to seek parental consent before vaccinating children. Nevertheless, it has now ended the requirement and pupils would be vaccinated with or without parental consent.
It is believed that children between 12 and 15 years of age could only be administered Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s Spikevax vaccines.
The WHO says its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has concluded that the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine is suitable for use by people aged 12 years and above.
“Children aged between 12 and 15 who are at high risk may be offered this vaccine alongside other priority groups for vaccination. Vaccine trials for children are ongoing and WHO will update its recommendations when the evidence or epidemiological situation warrants a change in policy,” WHO notes in a document available online.
The WHO document says the following vaccines met the necessary criteria for safety and efficacy for people 18 and above.
Vaccinating underage people without parental consent has generated debates in many countries including Pakistan.
The Sindh government initially distributed consent forms in school. A similar practice was seen in other provinces and the federal capital territory of Islamabad.
Many parents shared the photographs of the form online and expressed concerns over the undertaking they were being asked to sign.
One of the consent forms circulating online read in English, “I believe the benefits outweigh the risks, and I accept full responsibility for any reaction that may result from the receipt of the immunization.”
The consent form and its Urdu version — also circulated online — has been debated on social media. Some parents declared it a violation of fundamental human rights while others supported the immunization drive.
A similar debate rages in Britain where the government has allowed children between 12 and 15 years of age to overrule their parents’ decision and get vaccinated.