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27/10/2021

Thursfields’ advice for parents disagreeing over children’s Covid jabs

Thursfields advice for parents disagreeing over childrens covid jabs

Legal advice for parents who disagree about whether or not their children receive Covid-19 vaccinations has been issued by Thursfields Solicitors.

The leading Midland law firm’s guidance comes after the high court’s recent announcement that all children aged 12 to 15 in England and Wales are eligible to have the protective jab.

Harbinder Gosal, a senior associate solicitor in the Family team at Thursfields, said: “This announcement was a further attempt to limit the spread of the virus over the winter period and to reduce school absences due to Covid-19.

“However, while many families will be pleased that their children can now be vaccinated, some parents are reluctant to let their loved ones have this injection.

“This can be for a variety of reasons, as while billions of doses have been successfully administered worldwide there have been some negative side effects identified, and the long-term impacts of the vaccine are yet to be seen.

“Any such vaccinations must still have parental consent, and while a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is easy if both parents agree, consent becomes more difficult when parents do not see eye-to-eye.”

Harbinder explained that the Children Act 1989 governs parental responsibility, giving parents the right to decide what medical treatment their child should have, including vaccinations.

But she said clear procedures for the medical profession needed to be considered if parents disagreed on the issue.

She said: “Where there is disagreement, medical practitioners should not carry out the vaccination unless both parents’ consent is obtained or there is a court order.

“If you disagree to your child been vaccinated, there are two orders available under the Children Act.

“If the vaccination is imminent and the medical practitioner is aware of a dispute but has not confirmed that the vaccination will not be carried out, a ‘prohibited steps order’ can be applied for, stopping the other parent with parental responsibility from proceeding.

“The court can usually deal with this sort of application very quickly if substantiated by a statement.

“To avoid this situation arising, a parent should let the medical practitioner know if they do not agree to the vaccination and ask for confirmation that they will not vaccinate until the dispute is resolved.

“The next step is for a parent to apply for a ‘specific issue order’ and it will then be for the court to decide.

“Courts are experienced at dealing with parental disputes over medical treatment, and their paramount concern will always be the child’s best interests.”

Harbinder referred to the recent case E v H (private law vaccination) 2020 [EWFC] 93 where the judge commented that it was difficult to foresee situations where a vaccination approved for children would not be endorsed by the court in the absence of medical evidence contradicting this.

She added: “With the Covid-19 vaccine approved for children, a parent may wonder whether the court would on balance always decide that the child having the vaccine is in their best interests.

“Notwithstanding this, the court will not make any assumptions and will treat each case on its own merit based upon the evidence before it.

“For this reason, concerned parents should seek specialised legal advice if such a dispute arises.”

Anyone needing expert legal advice regarding parental responsibility, consent to medical treatment or any other dispute regarding children can contact Harbinder Gosal on 0345 20 73 72 8 or by emailing hgosal@thursfields.co.uk.

Harbinder Gosal - Colour

Harbinder Gosal,

Senior Associate Solicitor & Team Leader, Family Law

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