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Facts About...


How is consent for immunization obtained at Durham Region Health Department clinics?

In Ontario, the Health Care Consent Act, 1996 requires that consent be obtained before medical treatments, including immunization. The consent must relate to the treatment being proposed, be informed and voluntary, and not have been obtained through misrepresentation or fraud.

A person does not have to be a certain age in order to be capable of providing consent. The law states that a person is capable of consenting to medical treatment if she/he is able to:

  • Understand the information that is relevant to making a decision about the treatment, and
  • Appreciate the likely consequences of his/her decision or lack of decision.

Who decides if someone is capable of informed consent?

The health professional providing the treatment decides if a person is capable of consenting to a medical treatment, such as immunization. Health professionals use their judgment to determine if the client is able to understand and appreciate the information relevant to making the decision.

Who can provide consent for treatment/immunization at school-based clinics?

In general, Durham Region Health Department aims to have both the consent of a capable student and their parent/legal guardian before immunizing the student at a school-based immunization clinic.

We ask that the student, with their parent/legal guardian, review all of the information regarding immunizations that is sent home with the student.

If a student arrives at a school-based immunization clinic without the signature of a parent/legal guardian on his/her consent form, the nurse must assess the student’s capacity to provide consent. If the student is capable of providing consent, the nurse will proceed as the student wishes.

A student’s wishes in relation to immunization may differ from those of his/her parent/legal guardian. For example, a student may not want the vaccine while the parent/legal guardian wishes him/her to receive it. If a student does not consent, immunization will not be provided at the school clinic.

On occasions where the student may want the vaccine while the parent/legal guardian does not want him/her to receive it, the nurse will determine if the student is capable of providing consent for the immunization. If it is determined that the student is capable, the nurse will follow the wishes of the student.

What if a person is not capable of providing informed consent?

The nurse may obtain consent from a substitute decision-maker. Substitute decision-makers may be: a guardian or parent who has right of access; an attorney or person granted power of attorney; a spouse or partner; a child or parent of the incapable person; a sibling; any other relative of the person; or the Public Guardian and Trustee. Documentation, which demonstrates substitute decision-maker status, may be required. If the substitute decision-maker is not able to attend the clinic with the person being immunized, written consent from the substitute decision maker is required.

For questions about consenting to immunization, please call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.

June 17, 2016