A child has been caught between parents on either side of the COVID-19 vaccine dispute.
The parents have been separated since 2016, but a difference in opinion about the vaccine has ignited a debate about parental rights and time spent with the child.
A Kelowna provincial court deliberated whether it is in the best interest of the child to receive the vaccine and if the father’s parental rights should be adjusted depending on vaccination status.
The mother wants to vaccinate her 11-year-old child against COVID-19 and wants to limit visitation between the father and child until they are both vaccinated. She suggests that they visit indoors if wearing a mask, otherwise visits should be limited to outdoors. The mother and her partner, a frontline firefighter, are both fully vaccinated and follow strict COVID-19 protocols.
The father stated that “the vaccine is too new to know the long term impacts,” and said that “the risk of the vaccine outweighs the possible benefit he may receive from the vaccine.” He also believes that the child has developed immunity to the virus after recently being infected. The father has not disclosed his vaccination status.
The 11-year-old boy was deemed not mature or able to make their own decision about vaccination. Additionally, any decision that they were to make would result in conflict at home.
The court stated that they defer to the guidance of the officials in the provincial government and BC CDC in regards to the safety and validity of COVID-19 vaccinations. They have accepted as fact that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective for both children and adults and that people should still be vaccinated after infection to improve immunity.
The court ruled with the government authorities who have deemed the COVID-19 vaccine is be in the best interest of the child.
The mother is granted the parenting responsibility and authorization to fully vaccinate her child. The father will have parental rights restored after the child has had their first vaccine.
Both parents have been instructed to not speak ill of each other, share social media or discuss COVID-19 and the vaccination in front of the child.
There is a publication ban in place naming the parties involved.