Disagreements Between Parents in Vaccinating Their Children Against the Coronavirus

Posted August 13, 2021

  • Disagreements Between Parents in Vaccinating Their Children Against the Coronavirus

In general, the term custody refers to the authority and responsibility to care for and maintain a child as well as control a child’s upbringing. In New Jersey, custody is broken down into two components, legal custody and physical custody.

Physical custody means the physical care and supervision of a child. This includes attending to a child’s daily needs and making “minor” day-to-day decisions while a child is in that parent’s care. Conversely, legal custody refers to “major” decision making involving a child’s health, education, safety, and welfare.

In most cases that come before the Superior Court of New Jersey, parents are awarded joint-legal custody. This requires both parents to consult and communicate on significant decisions that arise involving their children. The decision to have a child vaccinated certainly qualifies as a major health decision, therefore, both parents are required to confer to reach a mutually agreeable decision whether to vaccinate an eligible child.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now stated, “[v]accines are widely accessible in the United States. Everyone aged 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.”

The State of New Jersey has followed suit and issued a COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions press release which outlined the recommendation that children over the age of 12 should receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the reasons why children should be vaccinated.

As the school year is fast approaching, the number of children infected with COVID-19 continues to steadily rise. In situations where parents disagree on whether their child should receive a vaccine to protect against COVID-19, the decision will ultimately be left to the Court.

The Court must look at each case individually with a child’s best interest in mind.  This issue has become highly politicized, and the reasons people choose either to receive the vaccine, or to forego a vaccination, are deeply personal and differ from person to person. The Court will look at the totality of the circumstances in making a determination as to whether it is in a child’s best interest to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Depending on the child’s age, it is possible that the Judge will also issue an order for an interview of the child.

If you have any questions regarding this blog, please contact my office.

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