Should Child Vaccinations Be Compulsory?

A recent BBC article confirms that the health secretary is currently looking into making vaccinations compulsory amongst children. What affect will this have on children and their parents? Geldards have recently acted on the 7th child vaccination case in the country.

The Health Secretary is addressing this issue following a recent measles epidemic in Europe. Given the sensitive and serious nature of these cases, they are dealt with by a High Court Judge.

All 7 cases on this issue have resulted in orders that children receive their childhood vaccinations. Judges are not medically trained. Very often a Doctor specialising in this area is required to provide a report about whether the child in the case should receive their vaccinations. The Doctor will explore the risks and benefits of administering vaccinations to a particular child taking into account the said child’s own medical history.

A key issue in law is the court’s ability to override parental responsibility and to act in the child’s best interests. Parental responsibility is defined as all the rights, duties, powers and authority that by law a parent has in relation to his or her child. A mother automatically has parental responsibility.

A father has parental responsibility if they were married to the mother at the time the child was born, if he is named as the father on the child’s birth certificate, if he has entered into a parental responsibility agreement with the child’s mother or if he has a parental responsibility order. If an order has been made for the child to live with someone, whether that be a parent, grandparent or special guardian, that person may also acquire parental responsibility.

Generally speaking, those who have parental responsibility have the power to decide whether a child should be vaccinated. If a disagreement occurs between parents, an application can be made to the court and a judge will determine if and when a child is vaccinated. If vaccinations are made compulsory this will remove a parent’s power to choose whether or not to vaccinate.

As alluded to in the article, some parents are fearful of, in particular, that the MMR vaccine causes autism in children, although the current “evidence” to support this theory was disproved and the leading medical expert promoting this theory has actually been struck off!

This is a hot topic, so watch this space. The full BBC article is available to view here

Should you wish to discuss this issue further, or have any questions of how this may affect you, please contact a member of our expert Family Team who would be more than happy to assist you.

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