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Children in Switzerland could get vaccinated at age 10, even if parents refuse

Swiss health authorities believe children as young as 10 should be able to make their own decisions about the Covid-19 vaccine.

Children in Switzerland could get vaccinated at age 10, even if parents refuse
Kids may be able to decde on their own whether to get vaccinated. Photo by Jacob King / POOL / AFP

Currently, the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer / Biontech is authorised for people 16 and over.

For those between 12 and 15, Pfizer submitted an application for approval to Switzerland’s regulatory body, Swissmedic, which is reviewing the application in the rolling procedure.

It is not yet known when the vaccine will be authorised for younger age groups, but the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has already said that when it does become available, 10-year-olds will be able to decide for themselves whether to get immunised without having their parents’ permission.

This information comes from a letter FOPH wrote at the beginning of May, which was re-printed last week by a Swiss news platform,

In this letter, addressed to the cantonal health directors, medical associations, and other health organisations in Switzerland, FOPH noted that the ability to make sound judgments doesn’t depend on whether the person has attained the age of majority.

“In order for a child or adolescent to be considered capable of judgment with regard to the vaccination, he or she must be able to assess the consequences of the intervention”, FOPH wrote.  

If a 10-year-old is capable of judgement, parental permission for the vaccine is not required and, in fact, the child can be vaccinated against the parents’ wishes, FOPH concluded.

READ MORE: When will Switzerland start vaccinating children?

Regina Aebi-Müller, law professor and at the University of Luzern and member of the ethics committee of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, said that while 10-year-olds may not be able to make medical decisions if the side effects a treatment are potentially severe “in other cases this ability is affirmed much earlier”.

In the case of a Covid-19 vaccination, which must have very few side effects in order to be approved in Switzerland, the ability to make decisions should be granted to well-informed 10-year-old children, Aebi-Müller said.

“In such a case, the child can independently register for a vaccination with a specialist who can assess their judgment – such as the family doctor or paediatrician”, she added.

Another expert, Nikola Biller-Andorno, director of the Institute for Biomedical Ethics and Medical History at the University of Zurich, said that judgment must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Nevertheless, Biller-Andorno thinks it is conceivable that children over the age of 10 can be vaccinated against their parents’ wishes.

However, she pointed out that “health professionals seek dialogue with parents whenever possible and aim for a consensus”.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: How Switzerland’s vaccination rollout is slowly picking up speed

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Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?