Family court cases commonly involve divorced or separated parents who can’t (or won’t) agree on the details involved in raising children. Of course, it should not be surprising that COVID-19 has introduced a whole new slate of issues that parents can disagree on. In a recent decision from Saskatchewan (reported on by CBC), two parents could not agree on whether they should take their daughter to get vaccinated.
Father claimed mother provided daughter with misinformation
According to the father, the matter arose after the parties’ 13-year-old daughter was ready to get vaccinated. In the decision, the judge wrote that the mother shared views that were contrary to “the prevailing wisdom surrounding all of the health concerns arising from COVID-19,” which included the safety of vaccines.
The details of what transpired between the mother and the daughter were not laid out, but it was clear that the daughter became skeptical of the safety of the vaccine and spoke with a doctor who advised that her prior medical history should provide her with a medical exemption to having to be vaccinated.
However, the court stated that there was no evidence provided by the child to the doctor, instead, relying on her re-telling of her medical history.
Court states that the vaccine is safe
The judge was quoted as saying “this case is not about whether there is, or has been, a pandemic with respect to the COVID-19 virus…the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective for use in people, including both adults and children.”
In addition to the doctor the mother spoke with, another doctor worked with the mother to dispute the safety of the vaccine. However, the court noted that the doctor she worked with had been reprimanded by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. after it was found that he was spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and was not qualified to provide evidence on the issue.
The mother also told the court she was upset with the father’s use of COVID-19 protocols, such as sanitation, online school, and testing for COVID-19 if symptoms showed. However, the court sided with the father on this point, stating that the measures he enforced were consistent with public health recommendations.
The court ruled that the father will be allowed to take the child to get vaccinated, adding that he will be able to do the same with the parties’ second child, who will be turning 11 soon.
We expect that we will see more decisions related to this issue, particularly as vaccines become available for younger children, assuming that plans to do so remain in place.
For questions that only a family law lawyer can answer, contact Howie Johnson Barristers & Solicitors at 519.973.1500 or contact us online. Howie Johnson Barristers & Solicitors has been a fixture of the family law community of Windsor and Essex County for over 25 years, and so understandably, many prospective clients come to the firm through referrals from current or past clients, and also through referrals from lawyers, accountants, medical professionals and marriage counsellors.