ic Health Nurses in schools the impact of this vaccine delivery has been enormous both in terms of increased workload and the information needs of both children and parents. This vaccination programme has also opened something of a ‘Pandora’s Box’ for those practitioners at the forefront of its administration with regard to a host of issues concerning consent and include:
Prior to the implementation of this vaccination programme no other STI vaccine had been routinely given to adolescents and the public’s knowledge and awareness of the link between HPV and cervical cancer was low. (Waller et al 2004). According to Zimet et al (2006), many healthcare workers also had limited knowledge regarding HPV, and in order for this vaccine programme to be successful, nurses’ attitudes and knowledge would be important factors. Nurses have a duty to ensure that they use the best available evidence to deliver care and particularly when they are advising people (NMC 2008)
As around 25% of adolescent girls in the UK become sexually active before the age of 16 (Wellings et al 2001), the issue of girls under 16 consenting for this vaccine is an important one if it is to reach the target group.
Consent for treatment is based on the ethical principle of autonomy or the right to self determination in which an individual is allowed to act upon decisions and choices. (Purtillo, 2005) In Scotland a young person under the age of 16 is deemed to have the legal capacity to consent to medical treatment under the terms of the Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 if, in the opinion of the health care professional involved, he or she is capable of understanding the treatment and its consequences. The authors’ experience of the vaccination programme since its inception however, has demonstrated that whilst the law appears to be very clear, it has become something of a grey area with regard to issues of consent for both children and their parents. It is these issues that the author