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High Court declares that child should receive vaccinations against mother’s wishes

SL (Permission to Vaccinate), Re 2017 EWHC

The High Court has ruled that a local authority may vaccinate a seven month old boy contrary to his mother’s wishes.

The seven month old baby was subject to an interim care order.  The mother objected to the vaccinations, Haemophilus Influenza Type b (Hib) vaccine and the pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) vaccine, being administered to the child on the basis that her other children had suffered adverse reactions from them in the past.  The local authority applied to the High Court for a declaration that these vaccinations were in the child’s best interests.

The authority’s medical expert gave evidence that there was no medical reason why the baby should not have the vaccinations and the withholding of them would maintain his vulnerability to two very serious infections.  The mother had not produced evidence to prove the adverse reactions suffered by her other children.

The Court recognised that it had to accord appropriate weight to the views of the parents.  It also had to exercise an independent and objective judgment on the basis of the evidence.  The mother’s rights under Article 8 of the ECHR had to be balanced against Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning the right of the child to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health.  McDonald J made a declaration under its inherent jurisdiction that it was in the child’s best interests for the local authority to arrange for him to receive these vaccinations and this was a proportionate interference with the mother’s right to respect for family life under Article 8 of the ECHR.

Read UK Human Rights Blog here.

Children's Rights, Health