When I was 12, I got a perm. My friend’s mum was a home hairdresser, and I told her mine had said it was fine, which was a lie.
My perm looked horrendous, the harsh chemicals turned the texture to straw, and I had bad hair days for years afterwards, when the roots grew back straight but the ends were a frizzy mess. I hadn’t considered the long-term effects, see, because I was 12.
So when I heard that children age 12-15 can overturn their parents’ decision on whether they get the coronavirus vaccine, I was incredibly worried.
To vax or not to vax kids is an extremely complicated issue.
It’s much easier to make the decision for yourself than for your offspring, because you care about them so much more than you care about yourself.
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I’ve spent lots more time thinking about whether to jab my son than I did deciding to have it myself. But once Chris Whitty gave it the thumbs up for children, I was all in.
I believe he’s a man of great integrity, with only pure motives, and I trust his recommendations. My seven year old will be jabbed as soon as his age group has similar clearance.
Given that this is such a complex issue – and about a matter of grave importance, pun intended – at first it seems madness to trust it to people not even in their teens yet.
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However it turns out that children do, as with all medical treatment and school vaccination programmes, have the right to go against what their parents decide.
As Professor Azeem Majeed, from Imperial College London, explains, “Clinicians have to decide if the child is competent to make their own decisions about Covid-19 vaccination. This is known as Gillick Competence, following a court case in the 1980s between Ms Victoria Gillick and the NHS.” Apparently whether a minor is competent is judged on their age, how well they understand both the risks and benefits of what is being proposed, and whether they can explain how they feel about the treatment.
Though this sounded like insanity initially, it makes sense when you think about it here.
In practice, what it will do is allow some young people to over-rule the mistake their anti-vax parents are attempting to make.
It gives them the chance to avert disaster, for themselves, and the rest of the human race battling this global pandemic.
A big part of growing up is realising that your parents aren’t perfect, infallible gods, they’re human beings, as flawed and capable of mucking stuff up as everyone else. They don’t always know best. Sometimes they’re just plain wrong.
Thank goodness kids of anti-vaxers have this chance to make the right choice.
And who knows, maybe they’ll teach their parents a thing or two along the way.