The cross : In its opinion on the vaccination of minors submitted on June 9, the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) insists on the need to “Seek (their) free and informed consent”. Is it possible ?
Fabienne Kochert: Of course, but on condition that you inform them. In pediatrics, we first talk to parents during the first years of a child’s life, but very quickly, from the age of 8 or 9, we talk to him directly.
→ ANALYSIS. Covid-19: the contours of vaccination for teens
Later, in adolescence, a reversal occurs: they know that it is no longer for mom or dad to decide, but for them. This is why many of us take individual time with them, in order to probe their desire. They are often very demanding of information which enables them to decide on their own.
How to best deliver this information?
FK: In the case of Covid, minors are already very aware. But this should not exempt us from taking the time to explain to them the mechanism of the disease, the profiles that it primarily affects, what they risk individually, or the way the vaccine works …
They are generally quite sensitive to the idea that one is also vaccinated with a view to collective immunity. And when, at age 11, it comes time for the pertussis vaccine booster, they fully understand that they are doing it first to protect babies from this disease which is the leading killer of infants under three months, excluding neonatal infection. We vaccinate the adults to protect the little ones. With the Covid vaccine, it’s a bit the opposite.
Are things not different when it comes to a non-mandatory vaccine, like the one against Covid?
F. K: Imposed or not, a vaccination should not be done without mediation. The vaccine against the papillomavirus, HPV, is not mandatory, yet it needs to be explained, especially to little boys to whom it is now recommended.
→ MAINTENANCE. Marisol Touraine: “We must move towards a voluntary sharing of patents on the Covid”
Recently, a young 11-year-old patient I was talking to about this vaccine immediately refused me a categorical refusal. It was enough for his parents to leave the office for him to change his mind and ask to be vaccinated. His refusal was primarily that of his parents. This proves the need to address the child directly so that he can choose freely.
We are the only country in Europe to have chosen to impose vaccination against eleven diseases on children under two years of age. I regret it, because I believe that informed information will always be better than an obligation.
Do your patients ask you about anti-Covid vaccination?
FK: Many adolescents bring up the subject on their own in consultation. And they are often eager to be vaccinated, because for them it is synonymous with a return to normalcy.
→ CALL READERS. Ask your questions about summer vacation
Obviously, parents are also wondering. What emerges is that minors like their parents would be reassured to be vaccinated by a health professional they know. You don’t vaccinate a child like you vaccinate an adult. So one thing is certain: we will have to create separate vaccination circuits.