When one parent requests the other parent to not vaccinate their child against Covid-19, one may ask, what are my options and what will the Federal Circuit and Family Court consider in its determination as to whether or not the child receives the vaccination?
Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, when a child is eligible to do so, is an example of a health issue relating to a child whereby you and the other parent would, in the normal course of parenting, liaise and either come to a mutually agreed decision. If you cannot agree, then in the absence of a mediated outcome, one of you could seek Court orders in relation to the issue – such as in this case – for the Court to rule in relation to whether or not your child is to receive the vaccination.
If this issue is raised before the Court, it is likely the Court will make an order to have the child, depending on their age, receive the Covid-19 vaccination given the current Victorian Covid-19 Public Health Directions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is supported in the case of Makinen & Taube  whereby a mother sought an injunctive order to have the father not vaccinate their children. In this instance, the Court determined the father have sole parental responsibility for the children in respect of all decisions relating to the children’s immunisation and vaccination. The Court also ordered the father forthwith do all acts and things necessary to ensure that the children receive the childhood vaccinations/ immunisations as are recommended by the children’s treating general practitioner by reference to the current National Immunisation Program Schedule published by the Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing.
In short, the case law regarding vaccinating of children under the age of 18 years is weighted significantly towards permitting the vaccination of age appropriate children. However, we recommend you obtain specific advice relevant to you and your family’s situation. As Covid-19 vaccination programs are being extended, it is also best to ensure that you understand the recommendations of the Federal Chief Medical Officer as well as the State based Chief Health Officer and ascertain what vaccination and what age group applies to your child or children.
Jordyn Bethune, Paralegal, and Caroline Counsel, Principal
Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers:
P: +61 3 9320 3900