What to do When Parents Disagree About Vaccinations?
Now that the COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for children 12 years and older, many parents are deciding if their child should get vaccinated. The decision can be even more complicated for co-parents who have differing opinions.
This issue is not simply limited to the COVID-19 vaccine; it extends to all vaccinations available to children.
What can parents do when they disagree about vaccinating their child?
Get Medical Advice
The first step is to have an open discussion with your child’s healthcare provider. Doctors can answer specific questions about vaccines, including potential side effects, and can help parents make informed decisions about vaccinating their children. Talking to a doctor is an even more crucial step if the child has a medical condition.
Have a Discussion
Open communication is one of the most important aspects and best ways to resolve co-parenting issues. Parents should express their concerns about their child’s vaccinations and openly listen to the other parent to come to a conclusion that works for all parties involved.
In some instances, involving a third party, such as a family therapist, could help in mediating the discussion so all parties feel heard and valued.
If you were previously divorced and have a mediation provision in your parenting agreement, you may be required to schedule mediation prior to going to court. Review the terms of your parenting agreement or consult with an attorney to see if this applies.
Go to Court
If parents have a fundamental disagreement over vaccinations, more involvement, such as the court system, might be necessary.
Parents may petition the court for sole decision-making which would grant one parent the legal right to make all medical and vaccinating decisions regarding their child.
Many courts across the country have granted sole decision-making for vaccinations to parents who want to vaccinate their child, finding that it is in the best interest of the child.
However, the issue of whether refusing to vaccinate a child constitutes medical neglect has not been decided in a majority of jurisdictions. Further, it is also important to look at the age of your child, as they may otherwise have the right to accept or refuse a vaccination if they are deemed “mature” by a court of law.
Follow the Advice of State and Local Officials
While the topic of vaccination may be a sensitive subject for some families, state and local guidelines may help make the vaccination decision easier:
- Local resources: Visit your city, township or county’s COVID-19 resources
- Illinois resource
- National resource
Kogut & Wilson attorneys can help parents navigate these difficult and complicated issues. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.