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Although the Covid-19 vaccine has not yet been tested or approved for children, if it is and Public Health England recommends children receive it, a minority of parents are likely to disagree over whether their child should have the vaccine.

Vaccinations should only be given to children where all those with parental responsibility agree. Therefore, if the vaccine is offered, and there is a dispute between parents about whether a child should receive the vaccination, an application to the family court should be made for a specific issue order to determine whether the child should be vaccinated.

As the vaccine is not yet available for children, hypothetical applications should not be made, as the judge in a recent case declined to make a specific issue order about the Covid-19 vaccine. Any future applications will be determined following consideration of the welfare of the child and what is known as the ‘welfare checklist’.

A parent who objects to their child having the coronavirus vaccine, or any other vaccine available on the NHS, would have to show there is a credible development in medical science or new peer-reviewed research evidence indicating significant concern for the efficacy or safety of a vaccine. Alternatively, they would have to show a well evidenced medical condition specific to the child to show that the vaccine could be harmful to them. In the absence of such evidence, it is likely that a family court will determine that it is in a child’s best interests to receive a vaccine which has been approved by Public Health England and is offered by the NHS and accordingly grant a specific issue order for the child to be vaccinated.

This article was co-written by Helen Young, family partner and Helen Clyne, family lawyer.

Read our most recent family law article: Children aged 12-15 to receive Covid-19 vaccine – what happens when those with parental responsibility don’t agree?

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.