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Parents often disagree on health decisions, but courts are wary.

Attorney Dustin McCrary says he expects some divorced parents will end up in court in the coming months over whether or not to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus. McCrary said that parents are generally granted equal rights to decision-making on their child’s health, education and general welfare, but that can lead to disputes when they have fundamentally different views.

“We see disagreements over ADHD medications, specifically, and other types of medical decisions and medications for children. I’ve even seen parents argue over whether a child needs braces, therapy and other types of treatment,” said McCrary. “The Covid-19 vaccine will be no different.”

Clinical trials of vaccines for children 12 and up are underway, and they may be available by early spring. But McCrary warned feuding parents against going to court, noting that there’s already a backlog of cases due to the pandemic slowing down routine hearings. He said parents should consult their pediatrician together and gather as much information as they can to come to a reasonable decision based on the welfare of their children.

Parents may not end up arguing about the vaccine in court if there are state or federal mandates for children to receive it, or it is required for them to return to school. But absent that, McCrary said parents will ultimately have to work together to decide.

“With our courts as bottlenecked as they are, the very last thing judges want to do is to have to
decide whether your child should be vaccinated,” he said. “Judges aren’t doctors.”

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