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COVID-19: Judge orders B.C. girl be allowed to get vaccination over objections of her dad

A B.C. judge has ordered that the mother of a 10-year-old Vancouver Island girl may decide in favour of vaccinating the child

Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. PHOTO BY DADO RUVIC /REUTERS

A judge has ordered that a 10-year-old Vancouver Island girl be permitted to get a COVID-19 vaccination over the objections of her father.

The girl’s mother, who is only identified by initials in a court ruling, wanted to have her daughter vaccinated after getting advice from her family doctor.

Court heard that the couple shared parenting time under a series of court orders but that none of the orders dealt with how parental responsibilities should be allocated.

The vaccine issue went before provincial court Judge Ted Gouge on Jan. 17 with the father asking the judge to refer the matter to mediation but the judge declined to do so because he thought the girl should not be left unprotected during the period necessary to schedule  a mediation.

Instead, the judge directed that the mother schedule a conference call with the father and her family doctor and if they were unable to agree following the meeting with the doctor, the judge said he would decide the issue.

The family doctor was unable to participate, but the mother was able to arrange to have a public health nurse speak to the parents, who represented themselves in court.

The dad remained unpersuaded and the matter was brought back before the judge, who noted that in the interim both the mother and the daughter had tested positive for COVID. The daughter got COVID Jan. 20 and the mom got it Jan. 23. The girl showed no symptoms, but the mom was not feeling well.

In his ruling on the issue, the judge cited a court case from Ontario that noted that responsible government authorities have all concluded that COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective for children to prevent severe illness and have encouraged eligible children to get vaccinated.

The Ontario ruling noted that the government and health authorities were in a better position than the courts to consider the health benefits and risks to children of getting COVID shots and without compelling evidence to the contrary, it was in the best interests of an eligible child to be vaccinated.

The father claimed that the unknown risks of vaccination outweighed any possible benefits, but the judge concluded he was citing statements by people whose qualifications were unknown.

The judge ordered that the mother make the decision about whether, how and when the girl is to be vaccinated.

“If (the girl) needs to be vaccinated, she needs to be vaccinated now.”

As part of B.C.’s vaccination strategy, starting May 2021, everyone 12 years of age and older became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Starting Nov. 29, that eligibility was expanded to children aged five to 11 years.

According to recent statistics, 48 per cent of B.C. kids aged five to 11 have received their first dose while 87 per cent of youths aged 12 to 17 have got their first shot.

kfraser@postmedia.com

twitter.com/keithrfraser

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