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B.C. mom wins court battle to vaccinate immunocompromised 7-year-old

Father opposed vaccine, argued too many unknowns around its effects on children
A mother won the right to vaccinate her daughter against COVID-19, over the wishes of the child’s father, in a Supreme Court ruling at the Victoria courthouse on Feb. 3. (Black Press Media file photo)

A Supreme Court justice in Victoria has ruled in favour of a mother wanting to vaccinate her young immuno-compromised daughter, against her ex-partner’s wishes.

The separated parents brought their disagreement to the Supreme Court in early February, since a 2019 arbitration award prohibits them from making medical decisions for their daughter unilaterally. The mother, referred to as M.O. to protect her identity, sought to vaccinate her daughter, while the father, A.C., thought the vaccine held too many unknowns.

Their seven-year-old daughter, L., has Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.

In her judgment Feb. 3, Justice Catherine Murray referred to advice from L.’s doctors and a statement from the Canadian Pediatric Society.

Murray said all L.’s doctors had written letters in support of her being vaccinated. Her family doctor said it was “imperative” she received the vaccine. Data from the Canadian Pediatric Society shows 39 per cent of children hospitalized with COVID-19 had at least one comorbidity. One such risk factor is Type 1 diabetes.

A document from the endocrinology and diabetes unit at the B.C. Children’s Hospital strongly encourages all children, including those with autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Murray said.

READ ALSO: B.C. to reveal updated COVID pandemic response next week

A.C. argued against the doctors’ advice, saying he felt there were too many unknowns around the vaccine’s effect on children. He asked that they hold off and said in his view L. wasn’t at a high risk of contracting the virus in school. Murray noted in her decision that while A.C. said he wasn’t against vaccines generally, he had opposed L. getting vaccinated for anything else since separating from M.O.

Murray said the only consideration in her judgement was the best interest of L., and ordered that her mother be the sole decision-maker in matters relating to COVID-19 for L. going forward.

“There is no question that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is in L.’s best interests,” the judge said. “The medical evidence is overwhelming and consistent that as a Type 1 diabetic, L. is vulnerable to serious consequences if she contracts the virus. The medical evidence is equally overwhelming and consistent that the vaccine is safe for children.”

The decision is the second published judgement in Greater Victoria in the past month to rule in favour of a parent wanting to vaccinate their child.

READ ALSO: Judge allows Greater Victoria mom to vaccinate daughter over dad’s objections

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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