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What happens when parents disagree about the COVID vaccine?

29 July 2021 |

Some young people are now being offered the Covid vaccine, but what happens when parents disagree about their child receiving the Covid vaccine?

The decision on whether a child should be vaccinated, remains a matter to be determined by those with parental responsibility.

What happens when parents disagree about the COVID vaccine?

Disputes between parents are difficult. However, the law is reasonably clear. If you feel strongly about your child being vaccinated but cannot get the other parent to agree, you may have to take court action.

What options are available if you do not agree?

Mediation should be the first step to help both parties determine their issues, find common ground and try to work out a mutual agreement. If mediation does not resolve the issue, the next step is to seek legal advice. 

Vaccines and Court Orders

Where two parents disagree about whether their child should be vaccinated, either parent may apply to the court under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 for what is known as a ‘Specific Issue Order’. The Court will then have the task of deciding how to resolve the dispute. As always, with disputes involving children, the child’s welfare will be of paramount concern.

While the COVID vaccine is relatively new, disagreements between parents about whether to vaccinate their children are not.

In a recent reported case, re (H) (A child: Parental Responsibility: Vaccination) 2020, the Family Court decided that if the administration of a vaccine is in the best interests of a child a parent can be overruled.  Historically, the Court requested medical evidence from an expert. However, given that the risks of not receiving the vaccine outweigh those of receiving it for most children a medical report was not deemed necessary unless, the child had a medical condition which ought to be considered.

As there is still limited data regarding the long-term side effects or effectiveness of the Covid vaccinations, clinicians have advised that only those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe disabilities are recommended to have the vaccine.

Specialist legal advice

If you are facing a dispute over child vaccinations and are confused about the process or would like to discuss your situation with a legal expert, we are here to help. Call our team of friendly family solicitors by calling 0117 906 9400 or email

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.

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