Last week the AMA provided advice to GPs regarding a form, or Statutory Declaration, being circulated by anti-vaccination campaigners attempting to circumvent the new ‘No Jab, No Pay’ laws, which asks doctors to acknowledge the ‘involuntary consent’ of a parent to the vaccination of their children. The AMA has now received advice from the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, supporting the information provided in last week’s issue of GPNN.
The advice states that there is no obligation for a doctor to be involved in any way with providing a qualitative assessment of any parent’s assertion they consider the policy coercive, whether sought in a Statutory Declaration or any other form. Even if such a form were signed by a doctor it would not in any circumstances make the relevant parent eligible for payments that would otherwise be suspended.
The appropriate path for a doctor or any medical professional who may be requested to sign a document of this type is simply to vaccinate where there is consent and decline to vaccinate where consent is absent. This assessment can be undertaken in the usual way without signing any Statutory Declaration or other similar documents. Should a parent not provide consent for vaccination and maintain an erroneous view that the policy is coercive they can pursue that argument with the Commonwealth Government without any involvement of the treating medical professional.
For the purposes of clarity, the patient/parent/guardian must voluntarily consent to an immunisation. The key to a voluntary decision is the absence of undue pressure, coercion or manipulation. If the parent presents with an “involuntary consent form” or states they are being coerced to do so by government the doctor should not proceed to vaccinate the child because valid consent has not been provided.
Published: 21 Jan 2016