Anti-vax groups are circulating a letter threatening headteachers with legal action if children are given Covid jabs at school without parental consent.
Lawyers for Liberty, a campaign group, has offered to send letters to headteachers “stating the legal risks of this policy” at the request of parents.
Meanwhile, anti-vaxxers are continuing to plan meet-ups around schools to target young people after Covid jabs for 12- to 15-year-olds were given the green light by officials.
The government has said teenagers will have the power to overrule parents who do not give consent and get jabbed for Covid.
A letter threatening headteachers with legal action if they do not take parental consent into account has been circulated around anti-vax groups on messaging site Telegram, with members urging others to send it to schools.
“Everyone needs to do this,” one post in channel Outreach WorldWide said.
On its website, Lawyers for Liberty appealed to parents whose child’s school is “promoting Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 12 years and over” and are concerned their child could be jabbed without their consent while at school.
“Lawyers for Liberty can send a formal email to the headteacher advising them of the legal risks of their policy,” the group said.
Their letter says: “If a parent communicates to you that their child is not to be included in the vaccination programme or does not provide consent, then that decision must be respected, without any further consequences for the child, including direct or indirect discrimination or coercion.”
It adds: “Failure to do so may result in possible legal claims against you personally and for your school.”
Nadhim Zahawi, who spoke on Tuesday while still in position as vaccines minister, said that a doctor or nurse would try to intervene when there was a “difference of opinion” regarding Covid vaccination between a child and their parent.
If a parent still did not consent to their child being vaccinated after this discussion, the teenager – if deemed competent – would be allowed to go ahead with getting a Covid jab.
A schools union said this week that many of its members had received letters “threatening schools and colleges with legal action if they take part in any Covid vaccination programme”.
Geoff Barton from the Association for School and College Leaders said: “This is extremely unhelpful and we would ask those involved in this correspondence to stop attempting to exert pressure on schools and colleges.”
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it is aware some schools have been receiving campaign letters and emails with “misinformation” about the vaccine programme, after ministers confirmed children aged 12 to 15 will be able to get a first jab from next week.
It has suggested headteachers who believe protests could be held outside their school over participation in the Covid vaccination programme should contact police to help manage the situation.
Anti-vax channels on Telegram are continuing to organise meet-ups near schools this week.
Local branches of the group Outreach Worldwide are planning on hanging around schools in the afternoon to catch children on their way home.
The North London Central group said leaflets would be provided at their meet-up “in the vicinity of local schools”.
“We will be focussing on education and empowering teens and encouraging resistance,” a post in their channel said.
Meanwhile, media non-profit organisation the Citizens has discovered a member of the Telegram chat group “Rebels at Vax Centres” emphasising the need for more extreme action in future.
Using the name Tim Covid Warrior, he posted that “it is now time for people to get organised into well drilled armies to take the government down”.
In further paragraphs he detailed that this would involve “vaccination squads” entering and “smashing up” vaccine centres, a mass assault against police and “taking over government/council and mainstream media buildings”.
According to Tim Covid Warrior, people could “swarm” police to prevent arrests being made and should also begin a campaign of harassment against doctors and other medical professionals.
His plan for schools went one step further and advised members to “protest constantly” outside the homes of teachers who promote the vaccine.
Children will be able to get their first Covid-19 vaccination from next week.
The UK’s four chief medical officers (CMOs) recommended all children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Professor Chris Whitty and his counterparts said vaccinating this age group will help to reduce the spread of Covid in schools and the risk of disruption to education.
This story was published in collaboration with media non-profit organisation the Citizens
Additional reporting by Press Association
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