The role out of the Covid-19 vaccine in whatever format, is likely to cause some concern for parents given its obvious new and rapid manufacture. Whilst at this time the vaccination of children, particularly primary school children, is not in the very near future, it is something that is potentially going to be relevant shortly.
What happens if parents disagree about whether a child should receive a vaccine or not?
This is not something new that the court has had to consider and there have been many cases before the courts regarding the vaccination of children, particularly the standard NHS childhood vaccine programme, over the years.
Such a recent case was before the court in December 2020 in M v H where the court summarised that following the law in s1(3) Children Act 1989 “Scientific evidence had established that it was generally in the best interests of otherwise healthy children to be vaccinated” and that the court is unlikely “to conclude that immunisation with vaccines that were recommended by Public Health England and set out in the routine immunisation schedule was not in a child's best interests”.
There are always caveats and this is not a blanket rule for all children particularly where a child may have a specific medical condition or where a credible medical science research has produced evidence contrary to such vaccines.
Can a court force me to vaccinate my child?
So will this apply if and when the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out to children? At this stage it cannot be said as this is it not currently within the programme. However, the Judge in M v H did make comment that if the Covid-19 vaccine is approved to be used for children then following the court’s general guidance, such vaccine is likely to be considered in the child’s best interest.
Is there anything parents can do at this time if they disagree about vaccinations?
The best advice would be to consult all parents and guardians for the children and find out what everyone’s views are on such a vaccine if it were to be rolled out. If there is any level of disagreement then we would recommend seeking initial legal advice.