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Gillick competence and vaccinations

48 replies

bathsh3ba · 06/12/2020 13:09

My understanding of Gillick competence is that a 13+ young person can in some circumstances decline or consent to treatment against the wishes of their parent if they are deemed able to understand the full ramifications.

Does this apply to vaccinations? I know this may not apply to the Covid vaccine (though it may in due course) but I'm thinking of my 13yo's upcoming HPV vaccine which she insists she won't have. She has severe needle phobia.

And what about tests? Can a teen be made to take a test?

OP posts:
BreadSaucery · 06/12/2020 15:48

Huge sympathies to you and your dd. I was that teen and refused tetanus (HPV vaccine and later teen ones not around when I was that age). No more injections of any kind until I was in my 30s and pregnant and bloody hell, was it hard to tell myself I had to do it for the baby I was carrying!
Agree it is about control and that specific counselling / therapy might help. It’s can be very hard at that age to see the short term terror as necessary to avoid serious things in future.
I’ll never waltz into a blood test or vaccination with joy and I still usually cry, but tell the HCP to ignore me and do what they have to do.

lunar1 · 06/12/2020 15:54

She needs treatment for this phobia as soon as possible. Anything could happen requiring her to have urgent medical care. While she might be overruled in an immediate life or death scenario she will very soon be old enough to decide for herself no matter what the circumstances.

Phobias are horrendous, but this isn't something she can avoid throughout her life.

wellhellohi · 06/12/2020 16:13

You need to manage the phobia and not worry about the vaccine just yet. She can get that at a later date.

I had CBT for a needle phobia and it worked well. I'm still afraid but I now have coping mechanisms. I got the treatment on the nhs. I would ask the GP to refer her.

This is something that will affect her whole life but careful, supportive management of it now will really help.

And to make you laugh I'm a nurse. So use needles everyday but god forbid you come near me with one if I haven't done my exercises I would literally faint.

bathsh3ba · 06/12/2020 16:21

She is afraid of the pain. She has a relatively low pain threshold anyway so things that I would not consider to be that painful, she would be crying at. It all started the first time she had to have the local anaesthetic in toe, to remove an ingrown toenail on one foot. She then needed it done six months later on the other toe, which was the horrid incident I described.

I don't know if it's relevant but she had skull surgery as a very young baby due to a condition she was born with and I remember them struggling to get her pain meds right and her crying till they did. Sometimes I wonder if she 'remembers' the pain but she was only six months.

I have told her that a local anaesthetic in the toe is much more painful than a vaccination but she is triggered by mention of a needle now.

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Ohalrightthen · 06/12/2020 16:27

She desperately needs therapy for this. Have you spoken to her about that option?

BreadSaucery · 06/12/2020 16:54

Has she tried Emla cream to numb the site of the injection? Would have to be done at the GP rather than at school.

overoptimism · 06/12/2020 17:11

That she asked for a hug when she was frightened doesn't mean she fears my disapproval. I would know the signs of that because I feared my parents' disapproval.

That's a lot of responding to something I didn't say. You don't know the signs of anything for her because she is a distinct person and different to you. You're blasé yet your daughter has a severe needle phobia for years and you didn't know. If this was my daughter, it would have come up somehow.

That she asked for a hug when she was frightened doesn't mean she fears my disapproval

Of course not! That she went ahead with something terrifying because it was clear that you were withdrawing from her unless she did so is worrisome. What else will she do to keep people from rejecting her? Why on earth woody you think it was acceptable to refuse to hug her when she was terrified? And your response to all this is not to question how you handled it or how to get help for your daughter, but simply to worry that you may not be able to force her to have treatment against her will. Then, when challenged, you pretend you don't understand the point that's made to you and defend yourself against an imaginary accusation that no one would make.

Stop thinking you have all the answers. The only thing that's clear is your lack of empathy and insight.

bathsh3ba · 06/12/2020 17:30

@overoptimism I think it is you reading things into what I have said, rather than the other way around.

I have clearly stated I would not force her. My concern is how to help her overcome this phobia, which hasn't come up in the past 2 years because she hasn't come across a situation where she might have needed a needle. When we talked about it after the event, 2 years ago, we discussed and moved past what I said/did, which I apologised for. I have always known she worries things will hurt, but I didn't realise the extent of the needle fear till much more recently.

You said: I think it's interesting that her anxiety about your approval and affirmation is bigger than the phobia, by the way. You clearly stated you believe she is anxious about my approval/affirmation. I simply disagreed with you.

I broached the idea of seeing a counsellor/therapy this afternoon. She is not keen on the idea. I'll keep working on it and we will delay the HPV vaccine.

OP posts:
Ohalrightthen · 06/12/2020 18:11

I'd be saying she gets the vaccine or she gets therapy. She needs both, ideally.

ramblingsonthego · 06/12/2020 18:17

I can talk to her about the treatment for cervical cancer. Mine was luckily caught very early years ago through a smear test, I still wouldn't wish the treatment on anyone, and I was one of the very lucky ones.

I know phobias are real and very debilitating (I have one of snakes), could you try hypnotherapy with her?

Tinselandbaubauls · 06/12/2020 18:36

Yes it a-plies to vaccines. Regards hpv, no one questioned my children at school. They won’t bully her, if you don’t consent. If she’s really nervous and knows she doesn’t want it best to keep her off school.

PurpleDaisies · 06/12/2020 19:01


I'd be saying she gets the vaccine or she gets therapy. She needs both, ideally.

Bribing her to consent to the vaccine like this is really out of order.

The hpv vaccine is a really good thing and it has loads of benefits. It is obviously better for her to have it than not. It is her decision though.
Ohalrightthen · 06/12/2020 19:10

@purpledaisies if she was objecting based on rationale and logic, however misguided, I'd agree with you. But her reasoning is irrational, and shouldn't be pandered to. Being scared of something harmless and potentially lifesaving isn't a good enough reason to skip jabs.

OP, you should tell your daughter about Jade Goodey. Or if you'd rather, i can tell her about my schoolfriend,who died of cervical cancer last year, and missed the roll-out of the vaccine by 6 months. She was 28.

bathsh3ba · 06/12/2020 19:12

I want her to have it. But if I delay it by a year and she has all her vaccinations in one go and after some CBT that sounds to me like it would be better.

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Ohalrightthen · 06/12/2020 19:13


I want her to have it. But if I delay it by a year and she has all her vaccinations in one go and after some CBT that sounds to me like it would be better.

Unless she's sexually active in that time, after which it's pretty pointless.

I'm sure you'll say "my daughter would never" but tbh my mother would have said that too!
lunar1 · 06/12/2020 19:25

I don't think you can give her a choice over the therapy. What if she needs fillings, or her appendix or any number of procedures needing an injection.

It really isn't just about this vaccine.

overoptimism · 06/12/2020 20:44

You claimed something I never suggested - that your DD asking for a hug suggested she feared your disapproval. I did not do that. My reasons for making the point I made had a much stronger basis and you would do well to look at them as this is not about a stranger on the internet, but your DD's welfare and you are presumably trawling for insights that haven't occurred to you.

I'm glad you've apologised to your DD and glad your focus will be on getting therapy for her going forward.

tootyfruitypickle · 06/12/2020 20:55

Is there any chance she would have it with a friends support? It’s a slightly different situation.

DD had the jab a few weeks ago and there were lots of nervous and tearful girls. I hadn’t even considered this and when she said she was a little nervous I gave her a bit of a talking to (she doesn’t have a phobia though so not suggesting you do this !). She did then go in quite happy and was asked to accompany a couple of girls who were crying because the teacher could see she was fine .

I’ve had cancer so my instinct was immediately unsympathetic , then I was surprised when she told me how many girls were upset.

Interestingly I had a needle phobia after my treatment and I still avoid blood tests like the plague but don’t mind vaccinations now but it’s taken a bit of work for me to get to that place. Jabs are so infrequent it’s quite a hard phobia to overcome in some ways .

Ffsffsffsffsffs · 06/12/2020 20:56

Your dd needs support to get over her phobia op. Desperately.

My best friend screamed the place down when we had our injections at secondary school (30 years ago) and matron couldn't get near her. She's 45 now and her phobia has prevented her from having any further vaccinations (curbing her jet setting as an adult) but also put her off having any children. She got married quite late on but her biggest regret is that she was too aftaid of needles she couldn't face needing treatment during pregnancy or birth.

Please get your dd some help x

tootyfruitypickle · 06/12/2020 20:59

I think I’d send her in, warn the teacher, abd see what happens. Her mates might help and she will also see she’s not the only one to be panicking. Honestly it sounded like my dd was one of the few calm ones in her class!!

yeOldeTrout · 06/12/2020 21:05

Well, if she won't have the HPV jab then ask her to be extremely careful with barrier methods when she starts having sex. Those and luck are the only protection she'll get. Or obviously just wait until she's found 'the one' before having sex.

Ohalrightthen · 07/12/2020 10:19


Well, if she won't have the HPV jab then ask her to be extremely careful with barrier methods when she starts having sex. Those and luck are the only protection she'll get. Or obviously just wait until she's found 'the one' before having sex.

That's only gonna work if her "one" has been similarly abstemious waiting for her!
bathsh3ba · 07/12/2020 10:42

In a similar way to it being neither possible nor desirable to physically pin a 13yo down for an injection, I'm not sure I could or should force her into therapy! I'll keep working on it - she may agree to online CBT or I may be able to find her a book. We used a book to talk about anxious feelings she had a couple of years back, which she now manages using the tools in the book. But the tools don't work for the needle phobia. I'll also talk to her head of year about accessing the school counsellor.

I take people's points about 13yo sometimes being sexually active but I think the chances are very low for our circumstances of her going to an all-girls school, not having any male friends and living in a village where I have to ferry her everywhere, so I do think it's unlikely that in the near future anything would happen. She still thinks the idea of kissing is 'yuck' and she hasn't yet started her periods and is still quite undeveloped. Hopefully 6 months may be enough for us to get this under control enough for her to have the vaccine only a little late.

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