AT THE UK Medical Freedom Alliance, we have grave concerns about the increasing medicalisation of schools, particularly the co-opting of schools by the NHS as vaccination venues, thus sidelining parents.
We contend that school is primarily a place for delivering education to a child, not healthcare, and is not an appropriate place to administer vaccines, especially by medical staff who do not know the individual children and their medical histories. A child’s own GP or practice nurse is far better placed to ensure that any intervention is appropriate and given with full and informed consent.
Blurring the line between education and healthcare in the context of schools raises important ethical questions. Administering vaccinations in this environment is impossible without compromising individual confidentiality and privacy, both important tenets in the provision of ethical medical care. Pupils will be acutely aware which children in their class have or have not taken a particular vaccine, which can be a source of great stress and shame for those who are not in the majority. In the absence of their parents for support and protection, children are highly susceptible to peer pressure from fellow pupils and are heavily influenced by the opinions of their teachers, so will naturally feel under pressure to ‘follow the crowd’. This creates a coercive and unsafe environment that is completely inappropriate for an individual medical decision. In addition, valuable lesson time is lost, and lessons are disrupted on vaccination days.
We were disturbed to come across a January 2024 policy briefing on ‘School Age Immunisation Services in England’ (SAIS) from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This seeks further to hijack schools and their captive children to promote and meet public health targets following a stated decline in children’s vaccine uptake since covid. They advocate that the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care work together to help SAIS offer 100 per cent of eligible children and young people the vaccines that are on the schedule, to increase regional and national vaccination uptake levels and reduce inequalities in uptake.
The policy laments the fact that currently ‘schools are not required to engage with or collaborate with SAIS or to support vaccine delivery on school premises’ and recommends that in future, all schools (independent and state) should be required to:
1. Have measures in place to support SAIS to deliver vaccines on-site (e.g. including a space and time for vaccine programme delivery in the school schedule);
2. Comply with the official guidance produced by NHS England outlining that schools are legally permitted to share the contact information of pupils and parents/caregivers with SAIS to facilitate a timely offer of vaccination and consent pathways;
3. Disseminate vaccine programme information and invitations from SAIS to parents/caregivers in a timely manner;
4. Nominate a dedicated staff member to liaise with SAIS;
5. Make the above requirements part of Ofsted inspections, under ‘leadership and management’;
6. Require local authority education services to collaborate with and
support SAIS teams.