Vaccination is a crucial public health measure that has saved millions of lives worldwide. However, there are instances where parents disagree on whether or not to vaccinate their child.
In Australia, both parents generally share parental responsibility for their child. This means that they have a duty to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare, which includes decisions about vaccination. However, in cases where parents are separated or divorced, disagreements can arise. If one parent wants to vaccinate the child and the other does not, it can lead to a legal dispute.
When there is a disagreement between parents about vaccinating their child, the first step is usually to try and resolve the issue through mediation. Mediation is a process where a neutral third party helps the parents discuss the issue and try to reach an agreement. The mediator does not make decisions for the parents but facilitates communication between them.
If mediation is unsuccessful, either parent can apply to the Family Court for a court order to resolve the dispute. The court will consider the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration when making a decision. This includes considering the child's physical and emotional well-being.
In Australia, the Family Court has generally supported vaccination as being in the best interests of the child, unless there are specific medical reasons for not vaccinating. For example, in the case of Duke-Randall & Randall  FCCA 1027, the court ordered that the child be vaccinated over the objections of one parent.
In determining what is in the best interests of the child, the court will consider various factors, including:
Parental disputes about childhood vaccines can be challenging and emotionally charged. However, it is important to remember that the best interests of the child must always be the paramount consideration. Mediation can be a helpful tool in resolving disputes, but if it is unsuccessful, the Family Court can make a decision. It is advisable to seek legal advice if you are involved in a dispute about vaccinating your child.