COVID-19 vaccinations for children
The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia are empowered under the Family Law Act 1975 to make Orders with respect to parenting matters.
Childhood vaccinations: parental disagreement
Vaccinating a child under the age of 18 years can sometimes be the subject of disagreement between parents. As such, an Application can be made to the Courts for Orders that a child be vaccinated, or not be vaccinated.
The COVID-19 List
In April 2020, the Courts enacted a special pathway for dealing with COVID-19 related issues in parenting proceedings, allowing for Applications that fall within certain criteria to be placed in the “COVID-19 List“, where they will be treated with priority. The Courts have anticipated that the issue of a child receiving the COVID-19 vaccination might be a matter of dispute between parents and have now included that as an issue which can be dealt with in the COVID-19 List.
COVID-19 vaccine and children under the age of 16 years
The Australian Government is implementing its plan to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone. It is doing this in stages whereby certain groups of the population are entitled to receive their COVID-19 vaccination at particular times.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved two COVID-19 vaccines for use in Australia. Those are AstraZeneca and Pfizer. However, neither of those vaccines has been approved in Australia for use for children under the age of 16 years.
So whilst the Courts have considered that vaccinating children against COVID-19 may be a disputed issue, an application made to the Court for an Order that a child receive the COVID-19 vaccine, is unlikely to succeed at this stage. In the event that the Therapeutic Goods Administration provides approval for children aged under 16 to receive that vaccine, then any such Application made to the Court will be determined based upon what is in the best interests of the child subject to that Application.
Johnston Withers Lawyers: we’re here to help
If you have concerns about vaccine-related issues or other parenting matters regarding your children, contact us at Johnston Withers Lawyers. Our team of experienced Family Law solicitors can assist you. We have offices in Adelaide and across South Australia in Clare, Murray Bridge, Port Augusta, Whyalla and Roxby Downs.