Duped Stevenage schools sent out COVID-19 anti-vax letter
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A school in Stevenage has confirmed it unwittingly distributed hoax COVID-19 vaccine consent letters, which aim to spread anti-vaccine messages, and parents at another school say they have received them too.
Headteachers across the country have been sent a 'consent checklist' with a fake NHS logo. It is presented as a consent form with information to be sent to parents ahead of pupils being given COVID-19 vaccinations, but includes a series of negative claims about the risks of vaccinations to young people.
COVID-19 vaccinations have been offered to pupils aged 12 to 15 across the UK this term.
The Nobel School in Stevenage has confirmed it distributed the hoax letter unwittingly, and parents at the town's Barclay Academy also say they received the fake consent form - which the Comet has seen.
One Barclay parent said: "Whoever sent that out without reading it has made a massive error of judgement. It could potentially sway someone's decision on whether to let their child have the jab. It's very serious indeed."
Another said: "I’m extremely concerned and shocked. It carries a very strong anti-vax message."
Corrina Reeder, assistant headteacher at The Nobel, said: "Last week, we received an email purporting to be from the Childhood Vaccines Team. Like many other schools, we passed this on to the relevant parents. Within a few hours we were made aware of the provenance of this email, and therefore contacted our parents, immediately asking them to disregard it."
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Barclay Academy has not responded to our request for comment.
Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Everybody in the school system is already working under huge pressure. One of these pressures is the fact a large number of pupils have caught COVID and are absent from school – the very thing the vaccination programme is designed to address.
“We appeal for those behind these fake consent forms to stop circulating them.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "Misinformation about the vaccine is dangerous and costs lives. We are continuing to do everything we can, working with local authorities and our NHS, to counter the spread of untruths with public information that is grounded in science and facts."