(Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) does not have or enforce a rule whereby a child’s attendance at school implies consent for them to be vaccinated. Social media users have shared a screenshot of a paragraph from a WHO document taken out of context.
The document, released in May 2014, details considerations for those rolling out vaccines to children and adolescents.
Paragraph three of the document, which has been taken as a screenshot and shared widely online, reads: “An implied consent 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.”
“This practice is based on the opt-out principle and parents who do not consent to vaccination are expected implicitly to take steps to ensure that their child or adolescent does not participate in the vaccination session. This may include not letting the child or adolescent attend school on a vaccination day, if vaccine delivery occurs through schools.”
One user who shared a screenshot of the document on Facebook said: “Parents beware. If your child is in school on vaccine day, it is considered "informed consent” (here).
Another said: “Be warned, parents! If you do not want your kids to have the C****-19 jab, you must provide clearly written exemption or pull them from school on that day at least. WHO is stating that the child being in school during vaccine distribution is implied consent. How do you like that? See link below” (here).
One social media user who shared a screenshot of paragraph three on Twitter said: “Parents! Please read ‘Implied Consent’ for the jab from the WHO-- so dangerous - do not send your kids to school when the jab starts being given!!” (here).
The document does not outline a rule whereby a child’s attendance in school during a vaccine rollout implies consent for them to be inoculated, however. The eight-page file details information with particular relevance to programme managers when rolling out vaccines to children and adolescents.
“WHO provides recommendations on immunization issues of global importance, but each country is sovereign and sets its own vaccination policies. Informed consent is required for vaccination,” a spokesperson for the WHO told Reuters via email.
“Current practices of obtaining informed consent for vaccination vary among countries and settings, depending on national consent laws and policies (including the legal age of consent). Informed consent can be obtained through different mechanisms: written, verbal, or implied. WHO does not recommend one specific approach over another,” they added.
The document does not set specific policies, rather it details information including common approaches for obtaining consent for inoculations and practical considerations (here).
Brian Dean Abramson, Adjunct Professor of Vaccine Law, Florida International University, told Reuters that in the United States the principle of “implicit consent” does not exist for a child to be administered a vaccine “by dint of their attending school”. (here).
“The requirement of parental consent for medical treatment of minors is the default in all states, and federal law does not particularly speak to the question one way or the other,” Abramson added
“There is, however, one notable case that has been decided by a court in which a schoolchild was vaccinated by a school employee without parental consent for the H1N1 virus during the H1N1 epidemic of the early 2010s [Parker v. St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, 102 A.D.3d 140 (2012)]. Like COVID-19, H1N1 was declared to be a national health emergency under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act), and the court held that the Act immunized the vaccinator from legal liability,” Abramson said (here).
“If a school official were to vaccinate children for COVID-19 with a vaccine approved for their age group under an FDA EUA, that official would similarly be immunized by the PREP Act from liability absent a showing of willful misconduct. That, however, is not the same as an implicit consent on the part of the parents,” he added.
Missing context. The WHO does not have a rule whereby a child’s attendance at a school implies consent for them to be vaccinated. A paragraph of a WHO document released prior to the pandemic detailing considerations and guidelines of particular relevance to program managers rolling out vaccines to children and adolescents was taken out of context.