This week we look at another case from Quebec, in which the court reviewed a father’s Facebook account and the son’s desire to join a basketball team in coming to its decision.
Mother Wants Son to be Vaccinated
The mother applied to court, seeking authorization to have her 13-year-old son vaccinated against COVID-19, despite the father’s objection.
In particular, the mother wanted the son to be vaccinated so he could participate in extracurricular sports activities at the school he attended. She also cited protecting his health as a reason.
Additionally, the mother wanted her son to be vaccinated so he could eat out at restaurants and watch movies at the cinema in accordance with Quebec law. In Quebec, vaccine passports are required for anyone over the age of 12 to attend public spaces.
Finally, because she was pregnant, the mother also wanted to protect her health and that of her unborn child. She did not want her son to possibly transmit COVID-19 to her or her unborn child.
Father Opposes Vaccination
The father was opposed to having his son vaccinated against COVID-19.
He stated he feared many of the risks associated with the vaccine. The father felt the COVID-19 vaccines were experimental and believed there was a lack of information and evidence relating to the long-term effects of the vaccines. He submitted that the vaccines modify the recipient’s DNA. He further argued that the risks associated with the vaccine were greater than any benefits his son may derive from playing sports, adding that there have been many side effects associated with the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
Finally, the father stated that he did not believe his son could transmit COVID-19 to the mother or to her unborn child if he remained unvaccinated.
Son Wants COVID-19 Vaccination
The son indicated he was particularly keen on participating on his school’s basketball team or doing karate.
In order to participate in either of those activities, he would be required to show his vaccination passport. Additionally, in order to be selected for the basketball team, he would be required to attend a selection camp, which he would not be able to do without his vaccination passport.
Court Determines That Matter is Urgent
At the outset, the court stated it would first have to determine whether there was any urgency to intervene. If there was, it would then determine whether or not it was in the son’s best interests to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
In determining the urgency of the matter, the court considered the fact that in order to participate in sports activities, the son would be required to obtain a vaccine passport. In order to do so, he would have to have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with a certain delay between each dose.
The court took into account the fact that there was a fourth wave in Quebec and that both the government and public health officials were urging citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible, including children over the age of 12 because unvaccinated children who attended school were at risk of catching and transmitting the virus.
The court, therefore, ruled that the matter was urgent and proceeded on the merits.
Court Reviews Father’s Facebook Posts
The court began by observing that the father’s belief that the son could not transmit COVID-19 to his mother or her unborn child if he was not vaccinated demonstrated a lack of understanding regarding the virus’ severity or transmissibility.
The court then reviewed evidence provided to the court from the father’s Facebook account. This evidence included posts stating that he was against the health measures implemented by the government. Additionally, there were posts showing the father vandalizing public health signs on health measures, such as wearing a face mask and respecting physical distancing. Another post showed the father in front of a school at a demonstration against face masks in schools. In a final post, the father congratulated a 13-year-old girl who had stopped going to school due to the face mask mandate.
While the father claimed his posts were unrelated to his decision to refuse to have his son vaccinated, the court stated that it did not believe him.
Court Authorizes Son’s Vaccination
After reviewing previous case law on the subject, the court stated that it would adopt the approach wherein the parent who wishes to follow the recommendations of the authorities in matters of health and, more particularly, in matters of vaccination must prevail unless there is evidence of special circumstances concerning the child.
The court then observed that the father had not provided any evidence regarding the son’s health which would indicate that receiving the vaccine would be more dangerous to him than for any other child over the age of 12. The court then stated: “The fears of the father are no match for the recommendations of public health in Quebec.”
Finally, noting that it was not bound by the son’s wishes as he was only 13 years old, the court took into account his stated desire to be vaccinated.
In the result, the court granted the mother authorization to vaccinate the son, without the father’s permission.
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