Students throughout the Horizon School Division have begun receiving vaccine consent forms and information packages in preparation for student vaccinations in June.
Kevin Garinger, the division’s director of education, said that groups of students will travel during school hours to vaccination sites in the communities starting June 4 and ending after about two weeks.
All students will be receiving the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which has been approved for safe use for anyone 12 and older.
“None of the clinics will occur at this point in the schools, they’re going to be off-site,” Garinger said. “Our students and families who make decisions to have vaccinations will be able to go to the sites located in certain communities to be able to gain access to vaccinations.”
If a student is participating in the school-based immunization program, they must be at least 12 years of age at the time of the clinic and provide a signed consent form on the date of the clinic.
Eligibility is based on age, not by grade.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said students who are 13 years and older can legally consent – or not give consent – to their own immunization as they are considered to be a “mature minor.” To be a mature minor, they must demonstrate the ability to understand the information regarding the vaccine to the healthcare provider.
Saskatchewan Health still recommends parents discuss consent for immunization with their children and efforts be made to obtain parental consent.
Garinger said this decision on whether or not a student gets the vaccination is a conversation for them, their families, and Saskatchewan Health – with the school division just supplying the opportunity.
“We will simply support those families and students who wish to get the vaccine, support them in getting to a location if that’s what they choose to do,” he said.
“It’s not the position of the school division to try to influence any decision that a parent is going to make with their children.”
The information pamphlets being distributed to families will contain the same information available on the saskatchewan.ca government website, such as the frequently asked question section.
“We know there are 14,000 students in the province who are between 12 and 17 that have already been vaccinated,” Garinger said. “So there will be some of the students of course who won’t be required to fill the document out because they’ve already been through that process.”
According to the division, consent forms will only be used for the purposes of providing the documentation to Saskatchewan Health and will be used for no other purpose.
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal