The Children's Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Plan
On the 14th December 2021, the UK Government announced that it was hoping to have an approved Covid-19 vaccine for children, aged between 5 and 11, before Christmas.
If the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) give their approval, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation would then need to meet and consider whether the vaccination programme should be extended to younger children.
Parents across the country are likely to have different opinions about this, but it will be especially tough for parents who have separated but want to exercise their parental responsibility. To understand more about parental responsibility, read this article.
If Parents Can’t Agree on Vaccinating Their Children
The case of Re C (Looked after Child) (Covid-19 Vaccination) is about a child who is about to turn 13 and is being looked after by the Local Authority following a Care Order that was made in 2015.
C wants to have the Covid-19 vaccination and the winter flu vaccine, and their Guardian and the Local Authority fully support this. They believe it’s in C’s best interests to have both types of vaccinations. Whilst C’s father supports the decision, C’s mother is strongly against having her child vaccinated.
It’s important to understand that the Local Authority will share parental responsibility with the child’s parents if there’s a Care Order in place. So, in this case, the Local Authority believed it had the right to exercise parental responsibility (under s.33 Children Act 1989) and wanted to arrange for, and consent to, the two vaccinations for C.
However, as there’s a lack of case law surrounding the Covid-19 and winter flu vaccines and because the mother was against her child having the vaccinations, the Local Authority was concerned that the s.33 Children Act 1989 might not apply to this case.
They wanted the Court to exercise its authority and declare that it was in C’s best interests to have the vaccinations.
The Court had to decide whether the Local Authority (who had a Care Order) had a right, under s.33 Children Act 1989, to exercise its parental responsibility and arrange for C to be vaccinated, even though the mother objected to it.