29 Sept 2022

County Derry solicitor begins legal challenge on parental consent for vaccine

Mr Atherton said the Department were preparing to 'disregard the wishes of parents'.

County Derry solicitor begins legal challenge on parental consent for vaccine

A County Derry solicitor has begun legal action challenging the Department of Health (DoH)'s announcement that parental consent will not be required for the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine to 12-15 year olds.

Stephen Atherton, of John J McNally & Co Solicitors in Magherafelt, said he has received instructions from a parent of a child in the affected age group and that formal pre-action legal correspondence has now been served on the DoH.

Mr Atherton said the advice of the Joint Committee for Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) had been 'disregarded'.

"JCVI stated on the 3rd of September that they could not support the universal vaccination of otherwise healthy 12-15 year olds due to the absence of long term safety data," he said.

"The Department of Health in NI are now preparing to disregard the wishes of parents in relation to crucial matters potentially affecting the short and long term health and well-being of their children."

The Glasgow native had been involved in a similar challenge to restrictions imposed by the NI Executive on children's sport in 2020. 

Health Minister Robin Swann had announced on Tuesday that people aged 12-15 would be offered a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine shortly.

"I have carefully considered the advice provided by the four UK Chief Medical Officers and have accepted their recommendation to expand the vaccination programme to all those aged 12-15," he said.

"This move will help protect young people from catching COVID-19 and is expected to prevent disruption in schools by reducing transmission.

"Our healthcare system stands ready to extend the vaccination programme to this group with the same dedication and urgency that they have delivered all other parts of the vaccination programme.”

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