Child Parenting Covid-19 Vaccine Disputes are on the horizon. Parents are extremely stressed at present worrying about their children going to school. Vaccines are being rushed through development and no one knows how safe they will be. There is no doubt that Child Parenting Covid-19 Vaccine Disputes will occur in the coming months. So- how will Child Parenting Covid-19 Vaccine Disputes be decided by the courts? In today’s blog Priya Bhandari one of our indefatigable Kelowna family law associates provides some thoughts on what courts will do. Our Covid-19 child parenting dispute lawyers act across BC and Alberta and in Toronto. Contact our Covid-19 child parenting dispute lawyers now if you need guidance on issues related to the pandemic.
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With almost no notice the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, drastically changed our world. Daily routines that we used to take for granted have either needed to be altered or eliminated. This has been described as the New Normal.
Along with needing to don face masks in public and maintain social distancing, those with children have had to work through new challenges concerning their welfare, especially about school. Once a vaccine is available, we will have an added burden to our decision making. Is it safe? Most parents will weigh the options and determine together if they want to immunize their children with a new vaccine.
This is not so easy a task with divorced parents who share custody.
The choice to immunize children is another stumbling block for divorced parents who share custody. If one parent does not want a child or the children to be immunized and the other does, then the decision is brought to the courts. The evidence for the benefits and safety of vaccines far outweighs any contrary opinions. The overwhelming opinion of reputable doctors and researchers is that all children should be immunized against diseases that could affect their health for the rest of their lives or even kill them. This was the decision of Justice J. Affleck in 2012 in the case of Vincent v. Roche-Vincent, 2012 BCSC 1233. He stated, when referring to the arguments for vaccines, “I reach the same conclusion that the risk with the vaccination are extremely low and the benefit significantly outweigh them.” He ordered that both children were to be immunized.
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In the case of D.R.B. v. D.A.T 2019 BCPC 334, a similar question confronted Judge S.D. Frame faced. In this particular case, divorced parents of two children could not agree on periodic immunizations. One parent did not want the children to be immunized with vaccines when the virus no longer existed in Canada. The Judge noted that one parent had a letter from the BC Interior Health detailing information directly from the CDC, The Center for Disease Control, explaining:
“Immunizations play a central role in the prevention of infectious diseases in children and the severe complications that can result. In addition, immunized children contribute to a herd immunity effect to protect the community as a whole. In particular, children who travel abroad should be up to date with the immunization schedule”.
Judge S.D. Frame wrote: “the US Department of Health and Human Services Centre for Disease Control and Prevention notes that not everyone is recommended to get the immunizations”. In this case, the children of this marriage did not fall into that category. The children had no prior life-threatening allergic reaction to a dose of that vaccine in question.
To help with his ruling, Judge S.D. Frame considered the decision of Justice Wedge J. in M.J.T. v. D.M.D., 2012 B.C.S.C. 863. Justice Wedge J. assessed the same question of immunizations. Justice Wedge J. referred to expert evidence from Dr. Scheifele, Professor of Pediatric Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and practicing physician at BC’s Children’s Hospital. Dr. Scheifele provided strong evidence supporting the importance of vaccinations and also addressed questions regarding adverse reactions to any o vaccinations recommended for children. The court wrote that it was:
“Dr. Scheifele’s opinion that none of the vaccinations given for these 14 infectious diseases posed any greater risk of significant adverse effects to the child than to any other child his age. All the vaccines are well tolerated by children. Most importantly, it is his view that the benefits of securing the child’s protection from each of the 14 diseases far outweigh the limited risks of a vaccine’s side effects”.
Despite the assurances of a certain president south of our border, a reliable, safe vaccine for COVID-19 is still a long time away. Vaccines go through a stringent series of tests before they are released on the general public. Yet, despite that, the debate of whether or not to immunize children is already starting.
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Steve Benmore, who recently wrote a piece in the Lawyer’s Daily, notes that there are legitimate reasons to both vaccinate or not vaccinate a child. He discussed a recent case of Tarkowski v Lemieux. In that case, separated parents could not agree on whether their child (Avery) should be given a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus once one becomes available.
Justice Penny Jones stated:
“Should a vaccine against COVID-19 become available, these parents will have to decide whether Avery should be vaccinated against it. Since children and young people often shown little or no reaction to the virus, a decision to vaccinate a child may be informed by a public health concern that COVID-19 is a virus that is easily spread and which disproportionately harms older people, and people with challenged immune systems. Ultimately, a decision to vaccinate Avery may be a decision to protect other vulnerable people against Avery spreading the disease. As any vaccine may pose some risk, and a new vaccine may pose unknown risks, it is imperative that Avery’s parents receive the same advice on this issue from a medical health professional.”
Justice Jones ordered that if and when a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, both parents should meet with the child’s doctor to discuss vaccinations. In the event that the mother refuses to attend this meeting or refuses the vaccination for Avery the Court is granting the father, as an incident of custody and access, the power to consent to the vaccination against COVID-19.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the parents to do all the research, talk to doctors and health professionals, and make an informed decision. If separated parents cannot reach a consensus, then it will be left to the courts. The courts will then objectively weigh the evidence and determine what is not only best for the child but for society.
If you have a Child Parenting Covid-19 Vaccine Disputes case contact our Covid-19 child parenting dispute lawyers for help.