We have discovered some tricks the government used to remove the legal requirement for informed consent. But not the moral one, of course.
Prior to Covid-19, a person authorised to administer a vaccine in an approved immunisation programme needed to fulfil certain criteria and have certain skills as per section 44 A of the Medicine Regulations 1984.
These are below:
(a) can carry out basic emergency techniques including resuscitation and the treatment of anaphylaxis; and
(b) has knowledge of the safe and effective handling of immunisation products and equipment; and
(c) can demonstrate clinical interpersonal skills; and
(d) has knowledge of the relevant diseases and vaccines in order to be able to explain the vaccination to the patient, or to the parent or guardian of the patient who is to consent to the vaccination on behalf of the patient, to ensure that the patient or the parent or guardian of the patient can give informed consent to the vaccination.
In May 2021 a new section – Section 44 AB – was inserted into the legislation and this was titled “Authorisation of COVID-19 vaccinators”. The law applying to these new vaccinators was different.
The new covid vaccinators did not have to demonstrate ‘clinical interpersonal skills’ or ‘have knowledge of the relevant diseases and vaccines‘.
They didn’t have to be able to explain the risks, benefits, uncertainties and alternatives as required as part of informed consent.
They just had to be competent in basic emergency techniques including resuscitation and treatment of anaphylaxis and know how to handle immunisation products.
(i) the person can carry out basic emergency techniques, including resuscitation and the treatment of anaphylaxis; and
(ii) the person has knowledge of the safe and effective handling of immunisation products and equipment.
In May 2022 a further new section was added – Section 44 AA – titled “Alternative authorisation of vaccinators”. Once again, under this section, a person authorised to administer a variety of vaccinations doesn’t have to know anything about the risks and benefits of the contents of the vial. They just have to be able to poke a needle in someone’s arm and inject whatever is in the syringe.
In theory these new types of ‘vaccinators’ are working under the supervision of someone who does have the required knowledge and ethical foundation to be able to provide proper informed consent, but in reality, how would you know unless you interrogated them.
So, it seems that the government removed the lawful requirement for informed consent, just at a time when it had never mattered more. New Zealanders need to be asking lots of questions and demanding an explanation. We suspect most of the 26,440 who upped sleeves last week for their 5th dose (this time the latest “bivalent booster” – the one supposed to protect against variants long departed and being especially pushed onto the pregnant) did not ask much, preferring just to trust.
“It’s just an apple”, said the snake.