With the news that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine could be rolled out before Christmas, much of the country is breathing a huge sigh of relief. But this news might be less welcomed by some parents as Patricia Robinson of Slater Heelis explains.
Patricia Robinson is a resolution specialist & partner at the family law Slater Heelis and believes that the vaccination could turn into a topic of contention between parents. She says; “Some parents have differing opinions on whether their child should be inoculated for standard vaccinations and we expect that the coronavirus vaccine will be no different.
“As with all new medical treatment, there is likely to be some scepticism surrounding the vaccine. If parents cannot agree on whether their child should receive the vaccination, legal proceedings may be necessary.”
Below are more of Patricia Robinson’s thoughts on the matter:
A child’s best interests
In a recently reported case, the court held that if the administration of a vaccine is in the best interests of a particular child, a parent can be overruled. Thus, standard vaccinations (e.g. MMR) will most likely be deemed necessary for the child’s health. The risks of not receiving the vaccine outweigh those of receiving it for most children. However, given the lack of familiarity with the Covid-19 vaccine, there is some degree of uncertainty.
It is reported that the over 60s and other vulnerable people will take priority to receive the vaccine. Children with no underlying medical conditions will probably be at the bottom of the list. However, parents should have these discussions now in preparation for when the vaccine is available to all.
Parental Dispute – What can we do?
Where one parent wants their child to be immunised, but the other parent does not, a court application can be made in order for the specific issue to be determined by a judge.
If Public Health England (PHE) support and recommend a vaccination, then it is most likely that the court would decide that it is in the child’s best interests to receive it. Given the severity of coronavirus and the global impact it continues to have, one would assume the vaccination will be supported once it has gone through the final stages of the testing process.
However, each case is determined on its own facts, and there may be additional issues which influence the outcome of any particular application.
Until we know more about the vaccine, the matter is a potential grey area. However, it is anticipated that in most cases, it will be deemed to be in a child’s and the wider public’s best interests to immunise against Covid.
That being said, the best course of action for parents is to come to a private agreement and avoid seeking court intervention on the issue. Mediation or arbitration may also assist.
To find out more information about Slater Heelis’ Family Law services, please visit their website: www.slaterheelis.co.uk.
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