Family First NZ is concerned that doctors and practice nurses are contacting young teenagers with information on the Gardasil vaccine without the knowledge or consent of parents.
A Christchurch parent has contacted Family First objecting to a letter sent directly to their just-turned 13 year old daughter encouraging her to make an appointment to receive the Gardasil vaccine. The letter offers advice to be sought from the Practice Nurse, but not from the parents. Family First has received other anecdotal evidence of teenagers being contacted without parental knowledge.
“Parents are right to be offended and completely outraged by this approach,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “It is incredible that a parent has to sign a letter for their child to go on a trip to the zoo or to be excused from wearing their PE gear at school, but can be completely ignored when their daughter is accessing a vaccine, contraception, or even an abortion.”
“This completely undermines the important role of parents, and places children as independent decision makers on issues that parents should be involved in – especially for the long term safety and welfare of the child. Some teenagers may simply not have the maturity or knowledge to make these important health decisions.”
The mother concerned told Family First, “This is another example of Government home invasion – an invasion of the parent/child bond. The letter gave my daughter no information or direction on how to find the necessary information to make an informed decision. Nor did this letter direct her to discuss this with her parents, who are interested and available to her and know her medical history and any potential risks. The emphasis is simply on the free offer with an invitation to ‘speak to a nurse’. This is not informed consent.”
Family First NZ is calling on the government and the Ministry of Health to respect the role of parents, and to keep parents fully informed and an integral part of the consent process in decisions affecting the health and welfare of their own children.