The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is now reaching out to target children as young as 12 in Canada.
These children do not require parental consent to get the shot.
While many of us are unaware of it, there is no national age of medical consent in Canada.
Quebec, where parental consent is needed for those under 14 for medical decisions, is the only province to have established one.
Some jurisdictions in Ontario, such as York region, require parental consent for children under 13.
Others, such as Peel and Toronto, aren’t requiring parents to provide consent.
Toronto Public Health’s announcement, endorsed by SickKids, on vaccine availability for minors states:
"Youth do not need to attend a clinic with a parent as parental consent is not required for them to receive a vaccine, provided the health-care provider administering the vaccine deems the youth capable of understanding their decision."
The Canadian Paediatric Society states that the healthcare provider must make that decision based on “the patient’s emerging self-awareness, developing values and beliefs [and] maturing cognitive skills”.
It would be difficult for a child’s family physician to make such an assessment, so how can we expect a healthcare worker at a “pop-up” vaccine clinic, who has never previously met the child, to be able to do it?
A child cannot consume alcohol, use tobacco, or drive, for the very sound reason that they are too young to appreciate the full implications of these actions until they are older.
Children are not even allowed to play organized sports, join clubs or go on school field trips without the consent of a parent or guardian.
And yet, Canadian children can receive a COVID vaccine without parental consent.
Something is seriously wrong here.
Even adults admit to being perplexed about the mixed messages different health authorities are sending about the advisability of pushing youth vaccinations, with the World Health Organization recently calling on wealthy countries not to vaccinate children and donate their COVID vaccines to poorer nations instead. How are we to accept that a child can assess complex medical facts, assess the reliability of conflicting sources of information, and choose responsibly?
Children who are not allowed to accompany their classmates on a trip to the park without parental consent are certainly not capable of entering into fully informed consent when it comes to COVID vaccines.
This never should have been allowed, and it must end immediately!
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