To Vaccinate? Or not to Vaccinate?
It is becoming increasingly common for separating parents to have differing opinions with respect to vaccinating their children. In accordance with the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register, children are vaccinated at 6 months, 12 months, 18 months and four years of age against diseases including Hepatitis A, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Whooping Cough. If a parent refuses to allow their child to be vaccinated, it is possible for the other parent to make an application in the Family Court for an Order that the child be vaccinated.
There have been a number of recent Family Court decisions relating to the vaccination debate where the Courts have made specific Orders for a child to be vaccinated. In Duke-Randall & Randall  FamCA 126 a mother asserted that her children were at risk of developing autism or an associated developmental condition if they were vaccinated. The father disagreed with the mother’s view and submitted that the children had missed out on many extracurricular activities as a result of not being immunised including attending the gymnasium, travelling overseas and socialising with other members of his extended family. A senior consultant in immunology also gave expert evidence and concluded that both of the children were "healthy and did not have any increased risk of side-effects or adverse events than the general population." Justice Foster accepted this evidence and found that it was it was in the best interests of the children to be vaccinated as recommended by the expert and made Orders accordingly.
Each matter will be determined on a case by case basis however to date the Family Court has taken the view that it is in the best interests of children to be vaccinated against preventable disease. Unless it can be established that a vaccination would cause a child to suffer adversely, it is likely that the Court will continue to take this view.