The below article is an interesting read about consent for COVID vaccinations for 12-15 year olds.
Covid 19 – Vaccination for 12-15 year old's – What if one parent does not agree?
On 19 August 2021 Cabinet agreed that the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is available for children aged between 12-15 years old.
Whilst in some households this maybe a straightforward decision, this may not be the case in all households or those whom have a shared parenting regime. There has been publicity of late about the effect of Covid 19 on children and it seems that to date research is limited on the effects of the vaccine. We have little in the way of case studies on this significant issue. This may very well mean that people are undecided, come to their own positions and ultimately may not agree as to whether their child /children aged between 12-15 should be vaccinated.
The Issue of vaccination is a guardianship Issue
The decision as to whether your child will be vaccinated is a guardianship issue. Guardianship issues are essentially the bigger decisions in your child/children's life – think education, religion, and medical decisions. When guardianship decisions need to be made - they are to be made jointly – not by one parent/guardian. This means that both guardians need to agree if your child aged between 12-15 years old is to be vaccinated.
What if we do not agree?
There are available options if you want this issue to be addressed.
- It is always preferable that parents/guardians (noting a guardian is not always the biological parent of the child) make the decisions themselves. As practitioners we know that if parents come to the decision themselves the decision sits better than a third party making the decision. Have the discussion direct, speak of your shared values and see if you can come to an agreement.
- A mediation service may be of assistance – The Family Dispute Resolution service offers a cost effective mode of mediation throughout New Zealand that can help come to agreements about guardianship issues. Mediation services are still available in all lockdown levels. https://www.fairwayresolution.com/
- Another avenue is to engage a lawyer and canvas your options – every fact scenario is different and we can assess you individual circumstances when advising you.
- Finally there is the jurisdiction of the Family Court – an application to settle a dispute between guardians can be filed if ultimately you feel you have exhausted all options and simply cannot come to an agreement.
If in doubt and you want to discuss this issue please feel free to reach out with a practitioner in our relationships team.
Although Vaccination is a guardianship issue – the children/child's view (12-15 year old) will be taken into consideration. A child can consent to vaccination or refuse – attached below is a link to an interesting article that looks at the views of children in addressing this issue. This is an article by Law Professor Claire Breen – looking at what rights children and parents hold in the Covid-19 Vaccination Process.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.