Family Court dismisses father’s battle against vaccinations for 4yo child

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The Family Court has cleared the way for a four-year-old in the protection of Oranga Tamariki to be vaccinated, despite the protests of the child’s father.

Nurse giving vaccine shot in arm of child, medical concept. (File image)

The judge says it’s in the child’s best interests that she be immunised (File image for representational purposes). Photo: 123RF / Chad Robertson

The girl has been placed with caregivers by Oranga Tamariki but has not been vaccinated as her father did not want her put into what he described as a “forced vaccination programme”.

During an hour of evidence in the Family Court at Blenheim before Judge Richard Russell, the man outlined his concerns.

“I have listened carefully to what he has said,” the judge said.

“He was not vaccinated as a child. Firstly, he believes there is no need for immunisations because the human body has its own natural immunity systems which can safeguard the body against diseases. Secondly, he is concerned about the contents of the various vaccinations which are proposed and the potential for a child to suffer side effects from these vaccinations. He queried who would take responsibility … if anything went wrong.

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“[The father] complains about not being able to get sufficient information from the Ministry of Health, who had not responded to the various concerns he has apparently addressed directly with them by phone. For this reason, he said he had not been able to undertake the research which he would otherwise have done.

“For all these reasons, [he] opposes [his daughter] being vaccinated.”

The young girl, who has three legal guardians – Oranga Tamariki and her biological parents – attends a preschool in her hometown.

The girl’s mother, who took no active part in the proceedings, signed two consents allowing vaccinations to take place and was concerned about her daughter associating with other children in circumstances if she had not received the appropriate immunisations.

“[The mother] was apparently vaccinated during the course of her pregnancy … something [the father] said he took issue with at the time,” Judge Russell said.

The immunisations sought by Oranga Tamariki were for rotavirus, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, for pneumococcal disease, for measles, mumps, and rubella, chicken pox, and human papillomavirus.

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Immunisations were meant to be given at six weeks, three months and 15 months of age.

Her mother’s immunisation during pregnancy addressed tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough.

Her father was concerned at what intervals she would now be given immunisations.

Judge Russell determined that was now a matter for the girl’s general practitioner.

“I have reached a view that it is in [the child]’s best interests that she be immunised,” his judgment said.

“I direct [she] may be immunised in accordance with the Ministry of Health applicable guidelines, subject to her general practitioner agreeing the immunisations are appropriate and in her best interests.

“The timing and dosages are a matter for the general practitioner in his/her sole discretion to determine.”

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