Advice Centre

Nov

What if My Partner Objects to Our Child Being Vaccinated?

Decisions about the Covid-19 vaccine have been causing great divides in even the most harmonious households. In the UK, parents have the power to decide whether their child should be vaccinated. When one parent doesn’t want their child to be vaccinated, but the other does, this can cause great tension between partners. Of course, the situation is further complicated where parents are separated.

The Covid-19 vaccine is now being offered to children aged 12-15 subject to parental consent, and it is anticipated that there will be a rise in applications to the court in cases where parents cannot come to an agreement about whether or not their child should be vaccinated. In this article, we take a look at what happens when one parent objects to having a child vaccinated and who makes the final decision.

Who has the power to make decisions about whether a child should be vaccinated?

In the UK, vaccinations are not compulsory which means that parents can decide whether their child should be vaccinated or not and parents do not have to agree in order for a child to be vaccinated. If a child is in care, the local authority will make the decision as to whether the child is to be vaccinated or not.

In cases involving children, the paramount concern is what is in the best interests of the child and scientific evidence has shown that vaccination is in most cases, in the best medical interests of the child unless there are specific anomalies in the case.

What happens when parents disagree about the Covid-19 vaccine?

The Green Book ( a document providing the latest information on vaccines and vaccination procedures, for vaccinations against preventable, infectious diseases in the UK) outlines what should happen where parents disagree. The document says:

“although consent of one person with parental responsibility for a child is usually sufficient, if one parent agrees to immunisation but the other disagrees, the immunisation should not be carried out unless both parents can agree to the immunisation or there is a specific court approval that the immunisation is in the best interests of the child”.

If you feel strongly about getting your child vaccinated but their other parent does not agree with you, you may be able to get a court order in favour of vaccination.

Getting a court order to vaccinate a child

If parents disagree about whether their child should be vaccinated, either of the child’s parents can make an application to the court under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 for a special issue order. The court will then make a decision as to how the dispute should be resolved.

Case example

Although the Covid-19 vaccine is relatively new and no decisions have yet been made about whether the vaccine will be made routinely available to healthy children under the age of 12, case law in relation to other vaccines can give us some indication of how such cases might be decided.

In the case F v F [2013] EWHC 2683 (Fam), parents disagreed about whether the two children they had together should have the MMR vaccine. In this case, the children were aged 11 and 15 and both objected to getting the vaccine. The parents in this case had both previously agreed not to vaccinate their children after reports that the vaccine could be connected to autism. However, this report was retracted at a later date and the father became concerned about his children’s welfare as they had not received the vaccine.

 In this case, the Cafcass Officer raised concerns about the children’s objections, saying that the children could not fully appreciate all the risks and benefits of vaccination. As a result, they asked the court to be cautious when taking into account their wishes and feelings about having the vaccination. The court eventually decided that on balance, it was to the benefit of children to be vaccinated, and made a declaration in favour of vaccination.

Contact Our Family & Children Top Rated UK Solicitors at our offices in Manchester, London and Birmingham

We understand how important your children are to you and we can help you to resolve disputes with a former partner to protect their best interests. To talk to a compassionate member of our multicultural specialist family law team, call us on 0330 107 0107 or contact us today using our online contact form and we will get back to you right away.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

Publisher Details

Published by: Iwona Durlak

Senior Partner

Family Law

IMD Solicitors LLP

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