Vaccination Disputes Between Guardians of Children

27 March 2022

A recent decision by the Family Court further confirmed the approach to be taken when settling vaccination disputes between guardians.

The dispute began when a mother wanted her 11-year old child to be vaccinated, while the father did not. Both cited safety as the motivation behind each of their positions. The mother wanted the child to be vaccinated immediately so that he could safely attend school, while the father opposed vaccination as he viewed the vaccine itself as unsafe.

The child said that he wanted to be vaccinated, but between the age of 12 and 13. The Judge saw that the child wanted the vaccine, and the condition he expressed around the age to be vaccinated was an attempt to please both of his parents.

The Judge ordered that the child receive the vaccine immediately. In making the decision, the Judge was guided by the considerable medical and scientific evidence supporting a conclusion that the vaccine is safe and provides the best protection against COVID 19.

It’s important to remember that the court will always make its decision according to the welfare and best interests of the child. This is the perspective in which a judge would consider medical evidence, the child’s medical history, and the details of the proposed medical procedure. Generally, the court will follow Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines on vaccination unless medical evidence shows that having the vaccine would not meet the child’s welfare and best interests or that an alternative option is available. Here, the Judge saw the most convincing evidence as supporting the decision to vaccinate the child.

If you have any questions about children and vaccination, please contact a member of our Family Disputes Team for advice.

Jo Naidoo and Harrison Thien are part of our Family Disputes team at Norris Ward McKinnon.