A social media post claims advice on how to vaccinate children against COVID-19 without their parents’ consent has been sent to all Australian doctors and nurses.
The claim is false. The ‘advice’ document is actually an article on the ethical and legal considerations that healthcare professionals should take into account if they are approached by a child who wants to be vaccinated but doesn’t have parental consent.
It has also not been sent to all Australian doctors and nurses, as is claimed. The article originally appeared in a medical journal. The version cited in the claim was published on the Australian Primary Health Care Nurse Association (APNA) website and in its semi-annual magazine.
APNA represents nurses working outside of hospital systems (general practice, aged care) – around 20 per cent of all nurses in the country.
The headline reads: “The ‘mature minor’ — What to consider when an adolescent requests a COVID-19 vaccination against their parents’ wishes.”
The text of the post reads: “This message has gone out to all Australian doctors and nurses with advice on how to jab your children without YOUR consent. What would you do if they jabbed your child without your consent?!? This opens the door for other procedures such as hormone blockers and even as a defence if a sexual assault happens. We must speak up! Are you okay with this?!?”
The article appeared on the APNA website as part of the Summer 2022-23 edition of its semi-annual publication the Primary Times.
APNA spokesman Nick Buchan told AAP FactCheck the claims made in the post are false.
“The article does not provide advice on how to vaccinate children without parental consent or indeed take a position on the issue one way or the other,” he said via email.
“Instead, it seeks to assist medical professionals with the decision-making process when such a situation arises, to ensure that their response to any such request conforms with Australian law and aligns with their professional obligation to act in their patient’s best interests.”
The APNA article was reworked from an original published by the Medical Journal of Australia.
The first paragraph of APNA’s version sets out its scope: “Some young people wish to be vaccinated for COVID-19, even when their parents do not agree. How vaccine providers respond poses a number of practical, ethical and legal considerations.”
The article then explores the legal framework related to the issue, in particular, what is referred to as ‘Gillick competence’ or ‘mature minor’ competence.
It also delves into the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a young person’s right to privacy and it states the benefits of opening communication between the young person and their family.
In addition, it provides a six-step process for medical professionals to work through when the situation arises.
It concludes: “Vaccinating a young person is a good medical, legal, ethical and human rights decision if the mature minor assessment is satisfied. In creating a space for conversation, the rights of the young person as well as their family can be supported.”
The claim is also false in that the document has not been issued to all Australian doctors and nurses.
The claim every doctor and nurse in Australia has been issued advice on how to vaccinate children who don’t have parental consent is false.
The “advice” is actually an article on the ethical and legal considerations healthcare professionals should take into account if they are approached by a child who wants to be vaccinated but doesn’t have parental consent.
It was not sent to all doctors and nurses – rather it appeared in a bi-annual publication for an association that represents nurses working outside of hospital settings. It also appeared on the group’s website.
False — The claim is inaccurate.