Call our National Helpline on 0300 0300 363
Check availability times

The UK's leading Shared Parenting charity

The Law Relating To Children

Vaccinations - the law when parents do not agree

The issue of vaccinations (inoculations or immunisations) is one which comes up frequently where one parent does not want the child vaccinated, but the other does.  The court of Appeal has recenty published a number of judgements which clarify when a child should be vaccinated and which vaccinations they should receive.

Re H (A Child) (Parental Responsibility: Vaccination) [2020] EWCA Civ 664

Although this relates to a child in care and both parents opposed vaccination, the points are relevant because in this case the Local Authority also has Parental Responsibility.

The judgement is linked to at the bottom of this page, but the key points are:

  • The purported link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been discredited.
  • Routine vaccinations in accordance with the Public Health England schedule of chlidhood vaccinations was not a "grave" or "serious" issue.
  • It is both reasonable and responsible parental behaviour to arrange for one's child to be vaccinated in accordance with the Public Health England guidelines
  • ... all the evidence presently available supports the Public Health England advice and guidance which unequivocally recommends a range of vaccinations as being in the interests both children and society as a whole.
  • Children should receive the recommended vaccinations unless there is a contra-indication that would indicate otherwise, e.g. if they had a medical condition which would mean a certain vaccine should not be give to that child.

If there is a dispute about vaccination which cannot be resolved between the parents with Parental Responsibility, the proper course of action is to bring the matter to the Family Court for a Specific Issues Order.

Re. M v (1) H (2) P & T (Children Represented by their Children's Guardian) [2020] EWFC 93 (15/12/2020)

2 children, 6 & 4 at the time.  Mother was opposed to vaccinations, Father sought a Specific Issues Order that the children be vaccinated in accordance with the NHS recommended childhood vaccinations.  In this case the children were represented by a Guardian who supported the Father's case.

Mother argued there was evidence the MMR vaccination did not provide lifelong protection and it was better for healthy children to contract the diseases and gain immunity naturally.

The Court decided that "each of the children to be given each of the vaccines that are currently specified on the NHS vaccination schedule".

The Court declined to make any order for vaccination that might be required for international travel due to the unspecified nature of what vaccine may be required for any particular trip at some indeterminate time in the future.

Neither would the Court make an order for any Covid-19 vaccine, specifically stating this was not due to any doubt about the efficacy or justificaiton for giving children the vaccine, but simply because the vaccination programme was still at an early stage and there was no information about when, or if, children would be vaccinated.  It was stated however:

As I make clear at the conclusion of this judgment, having regard to the principles that I reiterate below it is very difficult to foresee a situation in which a vaccination against COVID-19 approved for use in children would not be endorsed by the court as being in a child's best interests, absent peer-reviewed research evidence indicating significant concern for the efficacy and/or safety of one or more of the COVID-19 vaccines or a well evidenced contraindication specific to that subject child.

A review of the law and existing case law is presenting in the judgement.

Please note that these judgements provide a legal perspective on vaccination, however, whenever possible separated parents should seek to reach agreement out-of-court, particularly if not in court already. Even if your relationship with your ex is strained, taking them to court is likely to escalate any difficulties between you and lead to other adverse consequences, especially for the parent who does not have day-to-day care of the child.

 

What do you think?

Send us feedback!

        Forgot Login?  

  Join us now...
Consider a small donation...

If you are using Amazon for purchases, please use their "Smile" programme and select us as the charity they will donate to.

 

FNF HSSF Kite Mark

Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel.

FNF are pleased to announce a partnership with MyDaddy who have built this excellent app for the significant proportion of fathers who are now newly sharing parenting after separation.

Upcoming Events

8/05/2021 Sat: Harrow Branch Meetings
10/05/2021 Mon: Swindon Meeting
10/05/2021 Mon: Harrow Branch Meetings
10/05/2021 Mon: London Central Meeting
10/05/2021 Mon: London North Meeting
11/05/2021 Tue: Harrow Branch Meetings
11/05/2021 Tue: Crawley & Brighton Meeting
12/05/2021 Wed: Harrow Branch Meetings
12/05/2021 Wed: London East (Tower Hamlets)
12/05/2021 Wed: Cambridge Online Meeting
15/05/2021 Sat: Harrow Branch Meetings
17/05/2021 Mon: Harrow Branch Meetings
17/05/2021 Mon: Nottingham Meeting
17/05/2021 Mon: Reading Meeting
17/05/2021 Mon: London Central Meeting
18/05/2021 Tue: Harrow Branch Meetings
19/05/2021 Wed: Harrow Branch Meetings