With the rollout of the new COVID-19 vaccinations now well underway, there are still some people that do not wish for their children to have vaccinations especially the newly formulated COVID-19 vaccine.

There are some people wondering how the vaccine could have an impact on a child’s health. A question often asked is how can you exercise your objections to your child receiving the vaccination if your child is in the care of the Local Authority?

In the UK, it is for those with parental responsibility to decide when and if to vaccinate their child, however things get more complex with those with parental responsibility have differing views.

If a child is subject to an interim care order or a care order, under Section 33 of the Children Act, the Local Authority have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child and therefore take necessary action to ensure that they are discharging their duty.

When considering any plans to vaccinate a child when the child is looked after, the Local Authority should give notice to parents, to allow them the opportunity to put forward any objections relating to the Local Authorities plans. This could then lead to a parent making an application under the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court for a ruling. The Court’s main focus is the welfare of the child.

In the most recent case of Re H (A Child) (Parental Responsibility: Vaccination) [2020] EWCA Civ 664, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of Hayden J. The court considered that routine vaccination is not a serious or grave issue that requires a LA to seek the court’s approval whenever a parent objects. When the local authority is considering whether a child should be vaccinated, its decision must be based on the child’s welfare and the parents’ view should be considered. The weight given to a parent’s view is on the substance of that view, not on how strongly held it is. The court is clear that it should be assumed that vaccinations recommended by Public Health England will benefit a child.

Given that COVID-19 has impacted on all aspects of everyday life, Public Health England are urging all to get the COVID vaccination when each person is eligible. It should be remembered that the Court’s primary concerns is for the welfare of the child!

If you require further advice from a family law specialist on matters of children in care, please contact the team at Farleys on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.