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Mother wins right to vaccinate 10-year-old, despite dad's opposition

Father told court he feared vaccination would harm child
Scales of justice, at law court in Vancouver. BIV

A provincial court judge has given a West Shore mother the right to decide when and how to get her 10-year-old daughter vaccinated.

On Jan. 17, the girl’s parents appeared before Judge Ted Gouge at the Colwood courthouse. The mother, who is only identified in court documents by her initials, told the judge she wanted to follow the advice of her family doctor and get her daughter vaccinated against COVID. The girl’s father objected because he believes the vaccine is unsafe.

Although the mother asked the judge to refer the parties to mediation, he declined. Gouge thought the girl should not be left unprotected during the time it would take to schedule and conduct mediation.

The judge directed the mother to schedule a conference call with the girl’s father and her family doctor. The family doctor was not available, so the mother arranged a conference call with the girl’s father and a public health nurse. The nurse, like the family doctor, recommended vaccination.

The father did not agree with the recommendation and asked the judge to order that his daughter not be vaccinated.

In the meantime, both the mother and daughter tested positive for COVID. The daughter got COVID Jan. 20 and the mom got it Jan. 23. The girl showed no symptoms, but the mom was not feeling well.

In his Jan. 27 decision, Gouge quoted the latest guidance from the Ministry of Health, which states that vaccines for children are safe and effective:

“When you get your child vaccinated, you protect them from severe illness from COVID-19 and reduce the spread of infection in your community.”

In his ruling, Gouge said he was guided by a 2021 decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that found responsible government authorities have all concluded that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 12-17 and will prevent severe illness from the virus.

Government authorities have encouraged eligible children to get vaccinated.

“These government and public health authorities are in a better position than the courts to consider the health benefits and risks to children of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. Absent compelling evidence to the contrary, it is in the best interest of an eligible child to be vaccinated,” the ruling says.

The father argued that the unknown risks outweigh the possible benefits.

Gouge concluded that the mother wanted to make a parenting decision founded upon the advice of her family doctor and the Ministry of Health. The father opposes her decision based on the statements of “unknown people,” said Gouge.

“If [the girl] needs to be vaccinated, she needs to be vaccinated now,” said the judge, granting the order to allow the mother to decide how and when her daughter will be vaccinated.

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