Vaccinating Children and Covid-19


Last year I wrote a blog about vaccinations and specifically what might happen if it was recommended that children should receive a covid-19 vaccination. At that time, there had been no reported case on the issue as the vaccine had not been authorised for use on children.  On 16 February 2022 the JCVI came out in favour of vaccination for 5 to 11 year olds.  Then a few weeks ago, the family court handed down a decision in the case in the matter of Permission to arrange Covid Vaccination [2022] EWFC 112.


What was the case about?

The parents had separated shortly before the country went into lockdown in March 2020 and remained living under the same roof until late 2020.  The parents were diametrically opposed on many parenting issues.  One of those issues was about whether the children should be vaccinated. The father supported vaccination against covid, and the mother opposed it. She was suspicous of their effectiveness. She also believed parenting decisions should be discussed with the girls first.


The father relied on the published guidance from government and public bodies who implement children’s health policy.


The court held (following previous case law) that:-

“Although vaccinations are not compulsory, scientific evidence now establishes that it is generally in the best interests of otherwise healthy children to be vaccinated, the current established medical view being that the routine vaccination of infants is in the best interests of those children and for the public good.”

“Subject to any credible development in medical science or peer reviewed research to the opposite effect, the proper approach to be taken by a court where there is a disagreement as to whether the child should be vaccinated is that the benefit in vaccinating a child in accordance with Public Health England guidance can be taken to outweigh the long-recognised and identified side effects.”

In relation to the children’s wishes and feelings, the court said that the children were of an age (between 8 and 10) where their parents or, in default of agreement, the court should bear the burden of making the decision and not the girls themselves, young as they are and more especially where they are living primarily with a carer with this mother’s adverse views about vaccination.


Whether to vaccinate children can raise several difficult issues for parents- especially if they are unable to agree on the best course of action, either between themselves or with medical professionals.


But what really stood out from the court judgment was the negative impact that the ongoing dispute(s) between the parents was having on the children.  As the Judge said,the main thing the girls urgently need is to see their parents managing to work together on parenting issues without strain and without conflict.’


What if you cannot agree a vaccination issue (of any kind of vaccine), or other health issues or even wider questions of parental responsibility?


  • Talk about your concerns with the other parent/carer with the assistance of a Mediator. Many of our partners are trained mediators and can be appointed on a neutral basis to facilitate a conversation between you and the other parent/carer.  Alternatively, we can recommend mediators to assist you whilst we advise you alongside or within the process.


  • Talk about your concerns with the other parent/ carer with legal help. A lawyer will their best to try and secure an agreed resolution.


  • If an impasse has been reached and you cannot reach an agreement, it may be appropriate to make an application to court for a specific issue order.


The question for the court is what is in the best interests of the child?