A mother has hit out at a university after it offered her teenage son £250 to be a guinea pig for a meningitis vaccine.
Mary Galvin, 51, was furious when she discovered her 16-year-old son had signed up for the medical trial to make “easy money”.
She only found out he was booked in to test a vaccine for meningococcal group B meningitis when she asked him what he was doing that day.
Mrs Galvin immediately phoned the Vaccine Centre at Bristol University and claims staff could not assure her there was no risk.
Her son was told he would need a signed parental letter – but Mrs Galvin believes kids would happily forge them to get their hands on £250.
She said: “He was booked in and was probably going to forge my signature.
“When he first told me about it I told him it was stupid because he had no idea of the dangers.
“Then when I found out he was actually booked in for an appointment I put my foot down and told him he could not go.
“The word is obviously going around 16 and 17-year-olds that they can just pitch up and collect easy money – I think it’s atrocious.
“As soon as I found out, I contacted the Bristol Children’s Vaccine Centre and they were unable to reassure me there was no risk in taking part. The drug is not even licensed.
“I think the whole thing is disgraceful and very disturbing.
“The temptation for teenagers to forge their parents’ signatures when there is £250 up for grabs is too much.
“It is very hard for a 16-year-old to think about the consequences when £250 is on offer.”
A spokeswoman for Bristol University said she reassured Mrs Galvin that her son would definitely not have been allowed to take part without her approval.
She said the teenager had called the centre to ask about taking part after hearing of the trial from a friend, whose parents had an information sheet given to them by his school.
The spokeswoman said: “Our understanding is that the boy’s friend goes to a school which was circulating information about the trial.
“The boy called us to find out some more information and said he would like to take part.
“We sent him information sheets for himself and his parent.
“He contacted us to say that he had read the information, understood what the study was about and that his parent had read the information sheet sent out for them and was happy for him to take part.
“He assured us that his mum had read it and was happy. We then explained that we would need a Parental Agreement Letter completed and signed by his mum.
“He said that was fine and we sent him the form explaining that we could not see him without it.
“His mum called this morning and we reassured her that he definitely would not be allowed to take part without her approval.”