COVID vaccinations are now available for over 18s, and it is anticipated this could be expanded to include children by late summer this year. This means those with parental responsibility will need to consider whether or not their child should be vaccinated.
Vaccinating children is not compulsory in England, and those with parental responsibility for a child need to make the decision jointly. An application to court can be made for a specific issue order if those with parental responsibility disagree on whether or not a vaccination should be given to a child.
The court will consider whether or not the vaccine is in the particular child’s best interest, taking into account Public Health advice at the time and whether or not there is any contrary medical evidence pointing to any health risks for the particular child.
The recent case of M v H (Private law Vaccinations)  EWFC 93 involved a father’s application for a specific issue order to cover all the normal childhood vaccinations. The father also asked the court to consider travel vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines for the children. MacDonald J granted a specific issue order authorising vaccinations under the NHS vaccination schedule, but declined to consider travel vaccinations or COVID-19 vaccinations as he said it was too premature at the time and therefore he could not make a welfare decision for the children in question. However, he emphasised that “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”.
It is therefore anticipated that the court is likely to be favourable to children receiving the COVID-19 vaccine if an application is made, assuming the vaccine is approved for children by medical professionals and authorities at the time, unless there is a well-evidenced medical reason why the particular child should not receive the vaccine.
If you find yourself in the position where you cannot agree on vaccinations for your child and you would like some advice, please contact our team on 03331 212345 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article does not cover situations where a minor child can consent to medical treatment, and further advice should be sought if you believe this applies to your circumstances.