To vax or not to vax – it is the question that adults have been asking themselves and each other as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic. As the population moves towards significant numbers of vaccinated adults, the attention is now turning to the younger members of our community.
Children aged 12 years and up can now access the Pfizer vaccine; however for many, the decision as to whether the child is vaccinated will lie with their parents. This is a decision which is difficult enough where the parents remain in a relationship; however it becomes more complex where the parents are separated and may have different ideas as to what is best for their child.
Under family law, the decision as to whether or not a child is vaccinated is one of parental responsibility. In many cases, parents share parental responsibility equally and need to reach an agreed position.
If parents cannot reach agreement, the issue can be brought before the Court. In such applications, the Judge will consider the individual circumstances for the child, including any medical issues peculiar to the child which may place them at risk; as well as the practical effect for the child if they remain unvaccinated, such as exclusion from activities and services. In the end, the Judge must apply a best interests test.
Parents are encouraged to discuss this issue, and reach their own decision for their child; rather than leaving such an important issue in the hands of a stranger.