Children getting vaccinated

Kids, COVID-19 Vaccinations & Parenting Disputes

If you are in the midst of a separation, and haven’t read enough about COVID already, then you might be interested to know how the Federal Circuit and Family Court approach disputes about children being vaccinated.

Immunisation disputes are not new but they do not feature much in the case law.

We know from previous immunisation disputes that there are typically three categories, being:

  1. Those who ideologically oppose vaccinations;
  2. Those who prefer alternative medicines; and
  3. Those who are concerned about the adverse reactions the vaccine may have the to the child or children in question.

Immunisation disputes are all about a child’s best interests and are a flash point for parental issues. How then does the Court approach a matter where both parents believe that they are acting in the child’s best interests by either having them vaccinate or not?

A parent is able to get their child vaccinated, without the consent of the other parent, if there are no exisiting Orders. However, Courts may be critical of someone who disregards the responsibilities of joint parenting. Such conduct may impact decisions about parental responsibility.

 

How the Court approaches children being vaccinated? 

First thing to note is that the Courts haven’t taken judicial notice of the consensus of medical evidence and the broader public health objective to have the populations vaccinated (rightly or wrongly).

That being said, the case law shows that the evidence of medical experts has been favoured. Experts arguing the alternative tend not to be able to rely on adequate scientific research and medical orthodoxy.

 

Will COVID-19 be any different?

There are several issues that include:

Underlying Health Conditions
  • There is limited research and case law regarding when a child with underlying health conditions gets the COVID jab. The Courts approach will be interesting and caution will be necessary. The Court will possibly find that every child being vaccinated is not necessary but either argument would need to call upon credible expert evidence.
Public Health Interests
  • Court’s may be more activist and consider the public benefit of a child getting the COVID jab or the social ramifications if they don’t. Either option is open to the Court under section 60CC(3)(m) of the Family Law Act, and one Judge has already considered these points in the past.
The Child Opposes Being Vaccinated
  • The enforceability of an Order for a child to be vaccinated where that child themselves opposes getting the vaccination. This issue arose in an English case and notwithstanding the Order, the time passed, and the children didn’t get vaccinated. How this would play out here would be anyone’s guess, but we dare say that where the stakes are high, the consequences would be too.

 

What do you do?

Contact Umbrella Family Law . We can help you whether you’re seeking to have your child or children vaccinated or not.

 

Sebastian Tottle | Lawyer