The whole adult UK population are due to receive their first Covid-19 vaccination by the end of July. The focus will then turn to vaccinating children. This will raise issues for separated parents.

Clinical trials are underway in the UK for child vaccines. The United States has recently approved at least one coronavirus vaccine for children aged 12 and over.

Whether to vaccinate children raises several difficult issues for parents. That is especially so if they have separated and cannot agree on the best course of action.

What if you cannot agree?

  • Talk about your concerns with the other parent/ carer. If you want lawyers at your side in this communication, we will do our best to try and reach an agreed resolution on your behalf.
  • Talk about your concerns with the assistance of a lawyer mediator. Many of our partners are trained mediators. Parents can appoint them on a neutral basis to facilitate a conversation.  We can also recommend mediators to assist you. We can advise you as your lawyer alongside the mediation process.
  • You may reach an impasse. You can apply to court for a specific issue order. In urgent cases of proposed medical treatment, a court may grant an order at short notice.
  • Another option, short of court, is to get a senior barrister or retired judge to give an arbitration decision.

The question for the court or arbitrator is always – what is in the best interests of the child?

Recent case-law

In December 2020, the High Court was asked to consider whether the NHS childhood vaccination schedule should go ahead for a child. The case was called M v H (Private Law Vaccination).

Shortly before the hearing, the father also sought an order to cover future travel vaccinations and the potential coronavirus vaccination as well.  The mother opposed all the applications.  In this case, the judge ordered the NHS schedule vaccines to take place. He refused to make a blanket order for vaccines for future travel or in respect of Covid-19.

But the judge gave strong hints about the approach any court would take. He said “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, absent peer-reviewed research evidence indicating significant concern for the efficacy and/or safety of one or more of the COVID-19 vaccines or a well evidenced contraindication specific to that subject child”

The mother argued an order for the children to receive their NHS vaccinations would be a breach of their human rights. The judge disagreed. He was satisfied by the objectives of vaccination. This was to protect the children from the consequences of the disease, and to protect the wider population. This was sufficiently strong when balanced against other rights.