- To Vaccinate Your Child or Not: Taking a Shot at Reducing the Risk of COVID-19 – read now
To Vaccinate Your Child or Not: Taking a Shot at Reducing the Risk of COVID-19
At last, the news has broken; there is a light at the end of the tunnel! There are two vaccines that may be approved for distribution, within the next month. Both have had extraordinarily promising trials, with 90 to 95% efficacy, one showing promise to reduce the effects of the disease if contracted after the vaccination. So while, the winter is still looking dark and bleak, by late spring or certainly early summer, there may be inoculations in our futures to let in the sunshine.
While these trials did not include children, once on the market, the drug companies will commence with testing the efficacy and safety for use by children. Will the introduction of a vaccine for children throw a wrench in your co-parenting? If you anticipate pushback from your child’s other parent, then this is a good time to start a conversation about protecting your child from this virus once a vaccine is available if that is your desire. Once the vaccine is considered both safe and effective for children, what if the two of you cannot agree? What are your remedies?
As you can imagine, as is true in most situations, it depends. First it depends upon who has legal custody: you, your co-parent, or, do you share joint legal custody. If you have sole legal custody, the inquiry ends there. This is one of those decisions that is covered by the legal custody doctrine and you alone can make the decision regarding whether your child will receive the vaccine.
But under a joint legal custody regime, two parents must agree, unless one or the other of them is given tie-breaking authority. In some cases, parents divide up the responsibility of who gets to make the final decision regarding decisions for healthcare, education or religion. In that case, the parent with healthcare decision making essentially has sole custody as to healthcare decisions. But if you do not have tiebreaking authority or are not the healthcare decision maker, then first going to mediation to flush out the reasons your co-parent is reluctant to agree with you may be helpful. Going through these reasons with a neutral third party will hopefully allow each of you to understand the other’s position and decide what is in the best interest of your children. If mediation is unsuccessful, unfortunately, the only alternative, thereafter, if there is no agreement, is to litigate the issue.
If you go before the court, each of you will be able to share with the court your reasons, pro or con, with regard to the reason you believe vaccination is in your child’s best interest, or not. If your child is high risk because of asthma or diabetes or some other health condition, be prepared to put on such evidence. Also, put on evidence regarding the division of parenting duties, including if you are the parent that normally takes care of all health care needs of the children. Objections by the other parent will have to be plausible and well-developed to support their position. In the end, a judge will listen to both of you and decide based on the evidence, their own life experience, and the reasons put forth by each party, considering the best interest of the children above all else.
If you find yourself with the need to discuss this or any other family law issue, feel free to contact me at 410.659.1398 or reach out on email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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