In Washington state, children are now allowed to be vaccinated for COVID-19 beginning at age 12. Since many families have spent much of the last year cooped up inside, successful and publicly available vaccines present a way back to normalcy. This September, more kids will be attending school in person again than will not. In preparation, many families have had their children vaccinated – but we know some households are divided on this topic.
So what happens when one parent wants their child to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and the other parent doesn’t? We know that this question is top of mind for a lot of parents at the moment. To begin with, both parents should hear each other out and genuinely listen to what the other has to say. At the end of the day, both parents want the same thing: what is best for their children. Whenever there is a dispute over what actually is best, try to listen before escalating the conflict.
The best legal approach an attorney could suggest is following whatever your child’s pediatrician recommends for them. If the child’s doctor says that getting vaccinated (or not) is in the child’s best interests for safety and health reasons, it is hard to fight against that doctor’s recommendation in court. The doctor, after all, is the only medical expert involved, and vaccinations are typically considered a medical issue.
A dispute actually went to court recently between a mother who wanted to get her child vaccinated and a father who did not. The court ended up ruling that getting the vaccination was in the child’s best interest since their pediatrician recommended it. Family law is entirely based on what is in the best interests of your child. Their best interest does not necessarily follow any one religious belief or moral code. It follows what experts say will help the child most.
Of course, if being vaccinated becomes mandatory to attend school in person, there would be no legal room for a dispute. By law, all children have to attend school. Schools already mandate that some children receive vaccinations in order to attend, such as polio. It is possible that COVID-19 may become one of these vaccines. Of course, parents would still have the option to homeschool their children or pay for a private school that matches their beliefs.
At Akiona Law, we handle a lot of sensitive family disputes. After all, we are your family law team, and we want to properly help you with your family matters. To get help with your family law situation, contact Akiona Law today! We approach every issue with experience, skill, and compassion.