Boy must get vaccine jabs, rules High Court

The High Court has ruled that a 5-year-old boy will have to get his 4-in-1 and MMR booster vaccination shots — even though his mother does not want him to.

The parents of the schoolboy, who are no longer in a relationship, had gone to court in a row over whether their child should have his MMR and 4-in-1 booster vaccination shots.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty heard evidence from the mother of the child, who does not want her son to have the booster jabs, and the father, who wanted the injections to be given as speedily as possible.

In ruling, the judge said no legal authorities existed to assist in cases where estranged parents differed on medical treatment for their child, and he did not accept that the mother as primary carer had the stronger voice than the father.

A stay of 28 days was put on the order in case the mother wants to bring an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The child’s mother wanted the High Court to quash a decision of the circuit court last year that the boy be given the vaccinations under the HSE school immunisation scheme.

The district court and circuit court have already ruled that the inoculations should proceed, in accordance with the father’s wishes.

When the child was born he was immunised without dispute and no adverse reactions were reported after any of the shots. The parents’ relationship later broke down and the mother left the family home with her son.

Last year, the child was due to receive the injections provided for under the HSE programme to children in junior infants, but a dispute arose between the parents on the issue.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Moriarty ruled the HSE in the boy’s locality be notified of the court’s decision but he allowed a 28-day stay on the operation of the order, where no innoculations can take place in case there is an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The judge said the mother and father were clearly loving parents and it was unfortunate the deterioration in their relationship had extended to disagreements over whether their son ought to be vaccinated.

Mr Justice Moriarty said he did not accept that a hierarchy of authority could exist in cases where unmarried guardians have disagreements as to the medical treatment for their children.

“Guardians are given a range of powers and rights under the Guardianship of Infants Act that allow them to input into what happens to their children, irrespective of them being father or mother of the child. To suggest that in cases of conflict the mother’s rights outweigh that of the other guardian seem illogical,” he said.

The circuit court judge who had heard the case on appeal from the district court, Mr Justice Moriarty said, was left in the unenviable position of exercising a power conferred upon her by the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 to make orders in the best interests of the child.

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