Children and teenagers could have the coronavirus vaccine – even if their parents do not agree with them having the jab.
A decision on whether or not young people should be given a coronavirus vaccine is set to be made in weeks, according to an official.
Should children be able to consent to having the vaccine? Let us know what you think and be part of the debate in our comments section below
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is yet to agree on when or if kids will get the jab at all, but pressure is mounting as schools keep having to send large groups of pupils home to self isolate due to case bubbles.
Will children be able to give their own consent?
Experts say youngsters may be able to give consent themselves to be vaccinated, as long as they are fully informed and deemed mature enough to make their own decisions.
The law currently says that children under the age of 16 can consent to their own treatment if they're believed to have enough intelligence to fully understand what's involved in their treatment.
This is known as being Gillick competent and is measured by GPs with the Gillick test.
There are also the Fraser guidelines which apply specifically to under 16s about contraception and sexual health without parental consent.
Professor Russell Viner, former president of the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health, said he thinks that these guidelines would also apply to Covid vaccines.
He told a Royal Society of Medicine virtual briefing: “I think those general Fraser guideline principles would absolutely apply here, and I think they should apply, because young people, if competent, should be able to make their own decisions.
“There is a requirement to assess and approve competence, for them to be fully informed, and there is a requirement for the caregiver to have discussed and tried to work with the parents.”
Professor Viner also said that he knows most parents are still undecided as to whether or not they want their children to have the vaccine.
This is because children are so rarely severely ill with Covid, the jabs are not as much of a benefit to them as they are to adults.
Professor Viner said: “Given the benefit/risk balance would be finely balanced in teenagers, it would be no surprise to see more hesitancy because of that.”
Should children be vaccinated against Covid?
Other countries, including Israel, several countries in the EU, Canada and the US are currently vaccinating children aged 12 to 18.
Professor Anthony Harden, deputy chair of the JCVI, has also said there are pros and cons when it comes to vaccinating children.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 s Today Programme, he said: “We need to be sure these vaccines benefit children in some way and the risks from the vaccine aren't such that the risk benefit ratio doesn't become sensible to give them the vaccine.
"We are looking at this data very carefully. Clearly we are going to have to make a view on it over the forthcoming weeks."
There are concerns that the risks of vaccines may outweigh the benefits for children and young people, but the safety data is not comprehensive enough to know for definite.
The Covid jabs, however, would likely alleviate problems with pupils continually having to self isolate due to outbreaks at schools as they help cut transmission.