M v H (Private Law: Vaccination) [2020] EWFC 93

In a private law dispute the father of two children, aged 6 and 4, sought a specific issue order for their inoculation with the MMR and all other normal childhood vaccinations to include vaccinations for overseas travel and Covid-19. The mother questioned the efficacy of such vaccines [22], for her children in particular and alleged “experts” had concerns about ingredients of the MMR vaccine and their link to autism and Alzheimer’s.

With respect to vaccinations “for possible future travels”, MacDonald J held that it was not appropriate to make an order with “respect to travel vaccinations that may or may not be required in some unspecified point in the future” [3].  This was too speculative as to what vaccines might be necessary according to the “destination identified”.

MacDonald J also declined to a decide the Covid-19 vaccine issue given the “very early stage reached” in the vaccination programme. It is unclear what the official guidance on whether children will receive a vaccine and what vaccine that would be. However, MacDonald J stressed that “it was very difficult to foresee a situation in which a vaccination against COVID-19 approved for use of children would not be endorsed by the court” [4].

 As for inoculation against MMR, MacDonald J granted a specific issue order authorising the administration of vaccinations in accordance with the NHS Vaccination Schedule applying Re H (A Child)(Parental Responsibility: Vaccination) [2020] EWCA Civ 664.  Scientific evidence and Public Health England guidance establishes it “is generally in the best interest of otherwise healthy children” [40]. For a parent to assert otherwise they would have to adduce “credible peer review research” and a reputable “jointly instructed expert” [46] rather than “junk science” (Sedley LJ in Re B (Welfare of Child: Immunisation) [2003] EWCA Civ 1148.

For the full judgment click here.