Quebec Court Hears COVID-19 Vaccination Case for 12 Year Old
This week, we look at a Quebec decision in which the court also ruled in favour of the vaccination of a 12-year-old child despite the father’s objections. The decision was issued on August 27, 2021.
The mother and father have a 12-year-old son who was set to begin high school in the fall of 2021.
The parents went to court over whether the son should receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Father Argues Against Vaccination
The father refused to allow the son to receive the vaccine, arguing that it was not in his best interests. He submitted that the son was healthy and would not benefit from it.
Additionally, the father alleged that the son already had antibodies against the COVID-19 virus because he had become sick after the mother had been vaccinated. He stated that the mother had, following her vaccination, transmitted the virus to the son.
Moreover, the father stated that he believed that the vaccine might cause major side effects and harm to the body, as the son was overweight. He also feared that the son would have an allergic reaction because he was very allergic to penicillin and other antibiotics when he was younger.
Finally, the father argued that the vaccine against COVID-19 was at the experimental stage and was only approved by the government in a state of emergency.
Mother Wants Child to Be Vaccinated
The mother wanted the son to receive the vaccine against COVID-19 as soon as possible seeing as school was set to begin the following week.
As part of her reply, the mother submitted that she was never sick with COVID-19 and that the son had been cleared of allergies and has since taken penicillin without reactions.
Additionally, she submitted that she and the father had consulted the child’s pediatrician, who had declared that the vaccine was appropriate for everyone and that he recommended it to all his patients.
Child’s Attorney Presents His Views
In addition to the parents’ views, the son’s attorney made representations on the child’s behalf. He affirmed that his client wanted and was prepared to be vaccinated if the court so ordered.
The child’s attorney further submitted that son had indicated that he wanted to be vaccinated in order to do activities such as football and see his grandparents safely. He had also said that his father had told him “to do it if he wants to”.
Additionally, the attorney indicated that the parents’ conflict with respect to the vaccination had caused the son much anxiety and, as a result, there was tension between the father and the son.
Court Refuses to Hear Father’s Expert Evidence
As a preliminary matter, the court considered the father’s motion to have a doctor recognized as an expert witness to testify on the issue.
In response, the mother objected, arguing that the suggested doctor was an “anti-vaxxer” and would give an opinion based on erroneous information.
The court ruled that the father’s proposed expert would not be heard on the matter. The court stated:
“[The father’s proposed expert] is known as a scientist who “makes inaccurate claims on COVID-19 vaccine safety”. Her opinion cannot be taken seriously, is subjective and will not enlighten the Court in assessing evidence. Moreover, the scientist is based in Texas, did not meet [the son] and did not consult his medical file.”
As such, the father’s request was rejected.
Court Considers Context of Parents’ Application
The court began by stating that its determination would turn on the best interests of the son. The court further determined that the matter was urgent as the son was set to begin school the following week.
The court then stated:
“Since March 2020, the whole world has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Presently, a fourth wave of COVID -19 is hitting the province because of the Delta variant. Children attending school, teenagers in high school and students in CEGEPs and universities are at risk. The government urges citizens aged 12 years and over to get their two doses of vaccine against COVID-19. As of September 1st, citizens must have a vaccine passport in order to attend certain events, places or activities.”
The court further noted that Quebec Public Health had recommended that children aged 12 to 17 should receive the COVID-19 vaccine for the following reasons:
“Vaccinating young people will restrict the virus from spreading and help control the pandemic by stopping transmission in the youth’s immediate circle.
Vaccinating young people makes it possible to loosen other hygiene measures that control the spread of the virus and severely impact teaching, academic success, and student retention and overall well-being.
Vaccinating young people caps outbreaks and limits classroom closures, which also facilitates student success and retention.
Vaccinating young people means that sports and extracurricular activities can resume. These activities have a major positive effect on the mental and physical health of adolescents.”
Court Rules That Child Should Receive COVID-19 Vaccine
Ultimately, the court found that the father had not convinced it of the seriousness of his allegations and concerns. It held that the father had failed to prove that the child’s health condition was at risk and prevented him from receiving the vaccine.
While the court observed that the child’s wishes could not be considered as decisive since only a minor aged 14 years and over is entitled to give his consent to care without parental approval, the court noted that the child’s wish was serious and well reasoned.
The court further considered the fact that the child’s pediatrician had not opined that the son should not receive the vaccine due to any personal health conditions. It further took notice of the recommendations issued by Quebec Public Health.
In the result, the court ruled that it was in the son’s best interests to receive a first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. It therefore authorized the mother to have the son vaccinated against COVID-19 without the father’s authorization.
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