With the summer holidays nearing their end in both England and Wales (Scotland’s already started back) and with the new school year almost upon us, it may be off many parents’ radar that the next push for HPV vaccination of their teenage daughters is just over the horizon. Our previous article illustrated how parents in the UK can unwittingly find themselves in an information blackout and innocently give HPV vaccine consent for their teenage daughter(s) without being in possession of all the facts.

Since that last article, we’ve been receiving reports of intimidation and undue pressure from nurses and school staff that places unwarranted stress on schoolgirls who have opted out of HPV vaccination. It appears that girls are being unfairly questioned about their reasons for not consenting to the vaccine with a view to getting children to change their minds and going against the will of their parent(s) or guardian(s). In the UK, a child is legally able to elect for a medical intervention against the will of their parent or guardian if the child is deemed ‘Gillick competent’. But let’s not forget this precedent was based around a legal case which ruled that a 16-year-old girl should be able to receive contraceptive advice or treatment without parental consent. With HPV, we are dealing with a much more complex situation, with limited and contradictory data on both harm and benefits, with girls who are generally 4 years younger — and in most cases families having made decisions together.

The UK Association of HPV Vaccine Injured Daughters (AHVID) has shared with us its template letter that aims to help reduce the intimidation of girls being forced to receive the vaccine against their and their families’ wishes.

Download the template letter.

Powerless as a parent?

It’s not unreasonable for any parent to assume that on withholding consent for vaccination at school, that would be that. After making this decision, parents shouldn’t have to worry that the very parties administering the vaccine would then try to get their daughters to change their minds, behind their backs. Unfortunately, there are more than a few isolated cases about which we’re now aware where this appears to be happening - and we believe it’s imperative parents are informed that this might happen on the return of their daughters to school after the summer holiday.

For example, one girl informed us that, on suffering adverse reactions to the first vaccine and having tried to say no to the second and third jabs, she was told that she had to finish the course now that the first injection had been delivered. In some, but fortunately not all, schools, girls who submitted consent forms saying ‘no’ to the vaccine are being singled out by school nurses and being bullied into changing their minds. These allegations are both serious and they contravene citizens’ fundamental human rights, including respect for private and family life granted under the European Charter.

Many of the girls, whose families are convinced the HPV vaccine is the cause of their illness - because of the close timing between the vaccination event and the development of symptoms - have had their trust in the authorities eroded by being told that their illness is all in their minds and/or being accused of having Munchhausen’s syndrome . Others have been told that their symptoms cannot in any way be related to the HPV vaccine. School nurses and doctors who have consulted with girls who allegedly have suffered serious adverse effects from the HPV vaccine appear to commonly deny the existence of scientific reports of consistent serious adverse effects from the HPV vaccine that are mounting up year on year.

Cases in the UK, such as Holly Oakley, Zara Beattie, Rebecca Ramagge, Chloe Brookes-Holder, Ruby Shallom and many more have exposed these girls’ own, very personal journeys in the hope of preventing other girls from suffering similar fates. But, it’s not just the UK that’s affected. This sad story is repeated the world over.

When does education become bullying?

The tragic case of wheelchair-bound Glaswegian teen Chloe Brown, is another dramatic illustration of the problem facing families with daughters whose condition has deteriorated dramatically with each successive HPV jab. Her case and great suffering was reported on Scottish Television News.

After a heartfelt, personal letter to Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Chloe and her family were granted an opportunity for a one-to-one meeting to talk about the potential for serious vaccine injury that the AHVID says have affected at least 472 girls so far in the UK alone. These figures may also be just the tip of the iceberg. David Broom, Chloe’s uncle, has allowed us to publish part of his email to Dr Calderwood following the meeting with Chloe and her family regarding the level of HPV vaccine intimidation in contemporary Scottish schools:

Teachers address students telling them that they should all get the Vaccine as it could save them from getting Cervical Cancer. School nurses likewise encourage the girls to agree sometimes using strong pressure. Parents are rarely involved in discussions and the information given is heavily weighted pro vaccine. Intimidation must be stopped within schools and parents’ decisions not to vaccinate upheld. Parents are more aware of medical histories within their families. We note that it is being stated that parents’ consent is not required as the law gives a 12-year-old the right to make her own decision. Consider a young 12-year-old trying to stand up and be heard by a teacher or a nurse within the school environment and given the opportunity to put her case forward – not many 12-year old's have that type of confidence and should never be made to feel they are in the wrong by not having this vaccine. Sadly, this is a reality within many schools in Scotland.”

Chloe and her family are very grateful for Dr Calderwood’s time and compassion in meeting with them over such a sensitive, emotionally-charged and political issue. Yet, we await further news of any action taken since the meeting from Dr Calderwood or her department in Scotland.

This isn’t just happening in Scotland, but schools across the UK. Young girls are being unreasonably questioned when their parents have not consented to them having the HPV vaccine. During these grillings, it appears the girls are being told they can legally go against their parents’ wishes (i.e. they can exercise Gillick competence). Michelle Bate, a mother in Birmingham, whose elder daughter had already suffered severe adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine, refused consent in writing for her younger daughter to have it – this is what she’s shared with us because the papers wouldn’t print her story:

“I was assured that she [her younger daughter] would not be called out to receive any vaccines! but she was called out and when she politely told them that there had been a mistake as her parents hadn't consented and didn't want her to have it she was subjected to a barrage of questioning and then told to go and have a chat with the nurse to "PUT HER MIND AT REST AND CONSIDER GOING AHEAD " !!! the administrator even told my daughter that " THIS VACCINE WOULDNT HAVE CAUSED YOUR SISTER TO BE ILL IT MUST BE SOMETHING ELSE" when my daughter explained that the reason she wasn't having it was because it had made her sister really ill !! How dare they!! I complained to the school and the vaccination team who attended my daughters school but didn't get very far ! and I know this is not an isolated incident as another girl in the same year as my daughter was also called out not once but 3 times in 1 day and interrogated as to why her parents would stop her from getting this wonderful vaccine !! her mother was up the school to complain the following morning as was I and her daughter suffers with anxiety and was in a terrible state because of being interrogated in such a manner ! These are 12 and 13 year old girls being bullied by adults ! I told the school that they had failed in their duty of care to my daughter by allowing this to happen in their school ! they did apologise but it’s really not good enough.”

What can you do?

  • If you have a daughter of HPV vaccine age and would like to refuse consent – or have already refused consent – download a copy of this ‘belt and braces’ letter template, preferably seek agreement from your solicitor to be named, to make sure that your decision is clear, respected and unchallengeable by your school’s nurse, staff or any external vaccination teams
  • If you have a daughter who has already had an adverse reaction to the HPV vaccine that has occurred within hours or days of the jab, you may want to be particularly cautious about giving consent for younger siblings, as in the case of Michelle Bate
  • For more information on possible side effects of the HPV vaccine - download a printable poster that can be shared with others
  • If you feel strongly about the welfare of innocent school children and the importance of informed consent, please sign and share our petition to stop health authorities blindly claiming all vaccines as ‘safe’.

For more information on HPV, other vaccines and previous articles, please visit our Vaccine Choice campaign resource page.