The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKR), which represents both the regional governments which run Sweden’s health system and the municipalities which run schools, said that it had decided that 15-year-olds could be sufficiently mature to decide for themselves, although it said it was up to each individual region to decide it they wanted parents to have a say.
“SKR has assessed the legal support it gives to regions and municipalities and now believes that it is possible to make an assessment of whether a person is sufficiently mature [to decide] from 15 years and above,” Emma Spak, head of the healthcare unit, told the Dagens Nyheter
newspaper, saying that 15 year olds would be treated in the same way as 16 and 17 year olds had been.
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Health officials assess maturity by making children or teenagers fill in a form answering various questions on their health and testing their understanding of what it means to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
For children under the age of 15, Spak said, SKR believed regions and municipalities should in general be required to get written consent of parents, but she said that if there was a strong disagreement between parents and a 12 to 14-year-olds, health officials could still in some cases make an individual assessment of the child’s maturity, and go against the parents’ wishes.
Stellan Johansson, vaccine coordinator from Region Örebro, told DN that he expected securing parental consent to be the biggest challenge of this phase of vaccination.
“It’s without doubt getting parents to sign under a consent form and send them in before we can vaccinate their children,” he said. “This will put an extremely big responsibility on the parents to play an active role.”
Åke Tenerz, vaccine coordinator in Västmanland, said that he expected to see increased resistance from anti-vaccination campaigners.
“We’ve seen that the lower down we have gone in age, and started vaccinating 16 to 17-year-olds, anti-vaccination groups have become more and more active,” he said. “They’re a small group, but they make things uncomfortable for people working in vaccination centres and for those who are getting vaccinated”.
Vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds is expected to start of October 11th around Sweden, with some regions opting to carry out vaccinations in vaccination centres rather than in schools as originally planned.