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Judges claim vaccination is in a child's best interests
Children in care can be immunised against their parents' wishes without court intervention, senior judges have ruled.

In a Court of Appeal decision published on Friday, three judges concluded that scientific evidence "clearly establishes" vaccination is in a child's best interests.

Lady Justice King, sitting with Lords Justice McCombe and Peter Jackson, said that children in local authority care must be vaccinated unless there is a specific reason against doing so.

While parents' views must be taken into account, councils should not make decisions regarding vaccinations based on the strength of those views - unless they have a "real bearing" on the child's welfare, said Lady Justice King.

She added: "The administration of standard or routine vaccinations cannot be regarded as being a "serious" or "grave" matter.

"Except where there are significant features which suggest that, unusually, it may not be in the best interests of a child to be vaccinated, it is neither necessary nor appropriate for a local authority to refer the matter to the High Court in every case where a parent opposes the proposed vaccination of their child.

"To do so involves the expenditure of scarce time and resources by the local authority, the unnecessary instruction of expert medical evidence and the use of High Court time which could be better spent dealing with one of the urgent and serious matters which are always awaiting determination in the Family Division."

The ruling, in the case of a couple who refused to agree to their son being vaccinated, comes at a time when researchers around the world are working on a vaccine for the coronavirus.

On Thursday, British-Swedish drug-manufacturing giant AstraZeneca, said it had secured orders for at least 400 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine created by Oxford University.

The pharmaceutical company said it will begin rolling out the vaccine by September although it is as yet unproven.

Comment: "Unproven" means whoever takes it is part of a potentially harmful experiment, they're choosing - or being legally forced - to be guinea pigs.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has previously said that there is no guarantee that a vaccine will ever be found.

The couple, whose son - referred to only as T - was placed in foster care, had refused to agree to the child receiving his routine childhood immunisations.

Tower Hamlets Council went to the High Court arguing that, under the Children Act 1989, it had the power to arrange for the vaccinations to be carried out and, if this was not the case, then the court should grant an order authorising the injections as they were in the child's best interests.

In February, a High Court judge accepted the council's argument and said it did have the authority to arrange for the immunisations to take place.

The parents then went to the Court of Appeal, but at a hearing in April, they dropped part of the appeal, saying they were no longer challenging the merits of the High Court's order permitting the council to arrange T's vaccinations.

The healthy boy's immunisations are now due to go ahead.

The Court of Appeal was asked to decide whether a local authority has the powers to arrange for the routine vaccination of a child in its care where the parents have refused to consent.

Giving the court's judgment, Lady Justice King said: "The question that arises here is whether the local authority has the power to consent to vaccination in the best interests of the child, and thereby to provide lawful authority for something that is not compulsory."

She added: "Although vaccinations are not compulsory, the scientific evidence now clearly establishes that it is in the best medical interests of children to be vaccinated in accordance with Public Health England's guidance unless there is a specific contra-indication in an individual case."

Comment: The problem is that with vaccine injuries you don't know how serious the damage is until the deed is already done, and for some it can result in significant disabilities and death.

She concluded that, under the Children Act, "a local authority with a care order can arrange and consent to a child in its care being vaccinated where it is satisfied that it is in the best interests of that individual child, notwithstanding the objections of parents".