The Telegraph – The NHS has been accused of treating children as “state property” by encouraging them to get vaccinated without telling their parents.
Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust has promised youngsters that they will not inform their families or teachers if they get in touch to organise a vaccine.
A leaflet produced by the Trust asks: “Are you 12-15, living in Sussex, and want your Covid jab?” It invites children to get in touch if they have not yet been vaccinated, but would still like to have one.
“We will not usually inform your parents, teachers or anyone else if you contact us,” the pamphlet says. “We might inform someone if we were concerned about your safety but we would usually speak to you first.”
Children are invited to send a text message to a phone number and told they will be rung back with “confidential advice and support about how to get [vaccinated] in the catch-up clinics being set up across Sussex”.
Family groups have criticised the leaflet saying it is not appropriate for children to be encouraged to go behind their parents’ backs.
Molly Kingsley, co-founder of the parent campaign group UsForThem, said: “The choice about whether to vaccinate children absolutely must be left to parents. Children are not state property.
“The parents we represent feel incredibly strongly that this is not a matter for any arm of the state to get involved in. It is a private matter between parents and their children.”
Mike Fairclough, a headteacher in Sussex, said he came across the leaflets, which were being handed out to children at local secondary school.
“Saying to children ‘don’t worry we won’t tell your parents’ is usually frowned upon and considered really sinister,” he said.
“Saying ‘we will keep it quiet from your parents’ sends out a really bad message. The NHS is a trusted organisation but they are undermining that trust by sending that kind of message out.”
A study published earlier this week found that Covid killed just six healthy children during the pandemic.
The research examining more than 3,000 deaths of under-18s in England in the year since the first lockdown found a “tiny” proportion were linked to Covid.
Just 25 deaths were caused by the virus, and only six of those involved children without underlying conditions.
The same year saw more than 1,100 heart deaths among children, along with almost 1,200 fatalities linked to neurological conditions and more than 450 deaths among under-18s with respiratory conditions, according to research published in the journal Nature Medicine.
A spokesperson from Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are vaccinating children in line with JCVI guidance which says parental consent is always sought before they are vaccinated.
“The national Covid-19 vaccination programme is offering a single dose to all healthy 12-15 year olds, who are welcome to seek information about the vaccine.”