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To Vaccinate, or not to Vaccinate: One Year On

Last September, I explored whether or not children should receive the Covid-19 vaccination. One year on, where are we now and how does the Court view the issue?

In the case of K (A Child: permission to vaccinate) [2020] EWHC 3775 (Fam), the Court were asked by both  a  Mother  and  Father, in long running Care Proceedings,  to  prevent  the  Local  Authority  from imposing a programme of vaccinations against the child, “K”.
The Judge set out at the outset of his Judgment that, as the application to prevent vaccination was made  by  the  Mother,  that  the  onus  was  on  the Mother to show that it was right and in K’s best interests not to be vaccinated.

Whilst the Judge acknowledged the parent’s considered  ethical  and  religious  concerns,  being very  cautious  to  ensure  they  felt  heard,  he relied upon earlier established principle by the Court of Appeal in the case of Re H which states that “the scientific evidence now established is that it is generally in the best interests of otherwise healthy children to be vaccinated”.

It is perhaps worth noting that this case related to the routine programme of vaccinations from birth onwards, pre-Covid.


In the case of Re C (Looked After Child) (Covid-19 Vaccination)  [2021]  EWHC  2993  (Fam),  the  Court held that a Local Authority with a Care Order could, in certain circumstances, arrange and consent to a child  in  its  care  being  vaccinated  for  Covid-19 and/or the winter flu virus, irrespective of any objections from the child’s parents.

It is important to note that in this case, the child was aged    13    and    expressed    a    wish    to    receive vaccinations both in respect of Covid-19 and flu. The child  also  had  no  known  medical  issues,  which would raise concerns about administration of the Covid-19   vaccine.   C   expressed   his   wish   to   his mother directly, and his social worker.

The  Judge,  Mr  Justice  Poole,  took  the  view  that unless necessitated by a specific concern for a particular  child,  or  there  is  “new  peer  reviewed research evidence indicating significant concern for the efficacy and/or safety” (M –v- H) of a particular vaccine, he did not require expert evidence. He then went  on  to  conclude  that  as  both  Covid-19  and winter flu virus vaccinations were part of national programmes for vaccination for children approved by the UK Health Security Agency, that vaccination programmes may be in the best interests of children even though administering them is not free from risk. Mr Justice Poole specifically remarked that “very few activities in medicine or life more generally are free from risk”.

This appears to be the only reported case dealing directly with the issue of administration of Covid-19 vaccinations to children.

Where does that leave us?

The current judicial guidance suggests that unless there  is  a  demonstrable,  medical  reason  why  a parent believes a child should not receive a vaccination – whether for Covid-19 or anything else
– the Court will likely approve the administering of the vaccine.

If you are in a situation where there is a conflict in your  family  regarding  vaccination,  or  any  other medical  treatment,  please  contact  us  and  we  will be able to advise as to what the next steps should be.