Judges and Social services seem to think so
In many countries vaccinations, whilst not strictly mandatory, have been required for attendance at public schools. Indeed in France for many years, keeping your child’s Carnet de Santé up-to-date (equivalent to the UK’s Red Book or child health record) was essential for claiming your state benefits. The number of obligatory vaccines for school attendance in France prior to 2018 was only 3 (diphtheria, tetanus and polio) but has now risen to 11. In the US, mandates vary from state to state, with for example Alaska requiring Hepatitis B and Rhode Island requiring HPV despite neither of these being for a condition which would be contagious to other school children. Several countries had ‘Medical Freedom’ campaign groups seeking to support the concept of bodily autonomy but in the UK prior to covid, no such organisation existed and no vaccine requirements were applied, with UK Medical Freedom Alliance only founded in October 2020. Even for health service staff in the UK, the requirement for Hepatitis B vaccination was aimed at protecting the health professional against workplace-acquired infection rather than protecting patients.
So what has changed?
During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, fear was promoted as a means of obtaining compliance with various ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)’ such as lockdowns, masking and social distancing. As the incriminating minutes of the SPI-B meeting of 22nd March 2020 record, ‘The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging’
Social nudging ‘I wear my mask to protect you’ or ‘Don’t kill your granny’ subtly encouraged ‘othering’ and Priti Patel’s exhortation for people to snitch on any rule-breaking neighbours added to the background paranoia. When the covid vaccines arrived in December 2020 (conveniently timed with a ‘frighten the pants off everyone’ new variant) they were hailed as the way to enable a return to normal. Notable in the ordering of the rollout, care home staff and NHS staff came in band 1 and 2 respectively under the baseless assumption that this would protect the elderly or sick under their care. Also listed in band 3 were those living with an immune-compromised household member. Indeed even now when the autumn boosters have been dropped for healthy under 65s, anyone down to the age of 5 years can receive a booster for the protection of a vulnerable household member.
It was against a backdrop of the mantra of ‘Nobody is safe till everybody is safe’ that we saw the outbursts from Tony Blair, Joe Biden, Edwina Curry and Piers Morgan to name but a few. Of these, only Piers Morgan has had the grace to admit he was wrong.
Of course, judges and social workers have been subject to the same propaganda as the rest of the population, and this has led to a number of cases where parental decisions have been questioned and/or overruled. Some HART members have been involved in advising in a number of such cases. These have involved some instances where young adults with severe learning disabilities have been subject to ‘Best Interest’ meetings or referred to the Court of Protection and many more instances where marital breakdown has led to one parent wanting their children vaccinated and the other parent not. Our experience of the processes involved suggests that any formal meeting or court hearing will find for the party wishing to follow the government line regardless of the merits of the case. The examples below have been altered to ensure anonymity but will give readers a feel for the type of decisions arising.
The first young man who came to our attention was in residential care. The GP was insisting that the young man be vaccinated against his parents wishes. The care home, ever mindful of falling foul of the CQC, colluded with the GP to insist on a best interests meeting. The mother changed GP surgery twice but the pressure to vaccinate was the same. The young man in question had already had covid. His parents paid for private T-cell testing, which showed clearly that he already had natural immunity to covid, thereby providing him better existing protection than any vaccine could. Social services and the GP refused to consider this. His mother wrote a full account of their battles on his behalf in January 2022. A best interests meeting was subsequently called after 18 months of the GPs constantly pressuring the parents to agree to get him vaccinated. A HART member (a doctor) accompanied the parents. The GPs present seemed genuinely unaware of the evidence presented supporting the case to not vaccinate. After over 3 hours of intense discussion they extremely reluctantly agreed to postpone a decision and left the door open to reconsider in the future. The case very narrowly avoided being referred to the Court of Protection.
A few months later, the mother of a young man with Down syndrome asked for help. He lived at home and she was responsible for all his care. She had been sent an invitation for the vaccination back in January 2021 which she had ignored and no-one had contacted her until April 2022, when suddenly her GP phoned to discuss him being vaccinated against COVID and to ask for a best interests meeting. Two months later she registered him with another GP practice. Later he also had covid with only standard symptoms lasting 2 or 3 days, nothing remotely like the major illness that was being predicted for him. The new GP was clearly sympathetic, but at a meeting with a medical member of HART present, recounted that he was being emailed by social care on a weekly basis to check if the young man had been vaccinated yet. He felt he had no choice but support a best interests meeting, but again after being shown evidence of the efficacy of natural immunity and some of the harms, he changed his mind and he withdrew his recommendation for vaccination.
Several parents have contacted HART regarding legal cases brought by their ex-partner insisting on the children receiving the covid vaccine. In all cases which have got as far as court, the judge has found in favour of whichever parent is following the government advice, regardless of how ludicrous this has sometimes been. The judge has gone with prevailing government guidance rather than what any sensible parent would choose, given that only 11% of parents of primary aged children received a covid vaccine. There was one small success where a judge put a prohibition on the husband taking the children for a vaccination without the mother’s consent. Parents have generally not been allowed to provide expert witnesses and have not had legal aid, so mostly have been representing themselves, with HART members only able to provide scientific papers to assist them.
In one case in Canada, however, the judge was brave enough to find that the dissenting parent was a much more credible witness than the partner, whose entire case seemed to be based on ranting that his wife was a conspiracy driven ‘anti-vaxxer’. The judgement is well worth reading here.
The most extreme case encountered involved one parent taking their child to a vaccine centre despite the other parent having already told their GP they did not consent to the covid vaccines. The child developed chest pain lasting 2 days and fatigue and intermittent shortness of breath lasting several weeks (a classic symptom triad for myocarditis), despite which a court hearing occurred at which the judge agreed they should go ahead with the second dose. Luckily the other parent took them back to the GP who advised against a further dose. Trashing your ex-partner’s car or burning their clothes are one thing, but potentially putting your own child at risk to get back at them is beyond extreme. Surely ‘all is NOT fair in love and war’.
The initial cases all concerned covid vaccines, but increasingly parents who had concurred with a decision not to give routine childhood vaccines, perhaps spurred on by their success in arguing over covid vaccines, have included demanding backdating infant vaccines in their children, as much as a decade after the original decision. Again several of these were around situations where the child had had an adverse reaction to an earlier dose. It seems that where there is parental harmony, a choice not to vaccinate is acceptable but once the relationship breaks down, immunisations become effectively mandatory, as any aggrieved parent can easily find a judge to compel their view point. The one thing which surely is not in a child’s best interest is to have lawyers deciding on their medical care.
Cases with parental agreement:
Perhaps most alarming are two cases which have come to our attention where the parents were in agreement, but health or social care staff took lack of immunisations as evidence of neglect. In one case, a very preterm baby going home before her due date, was being recommended for the first dose of routine immunisations. The parents wanted to wait till the baby had been home for a couple of months and was bigger and stronger, but an Emergency Protection Order was employed to enforce vaccination. This was despite the parents’ wishes being in line with what would have been standard practice in the past.
In another more worrying case, the combination of home education and a choice against routine immunisation of the children was used as evidence against parents after a vexatious anonymous complaint. The mother was suspended from her job in the health sector and police arrived to take the children into care but fortunately very quickly realised they were all perfectly well-fed and happy, so left them in the care of their articulate professional parents. All was resolved, but not before the whole family had been put under enormous emotional pressure. The outcome might have been very different in a more socially disadvantaged family.
The over-reach of the state in these matters has been extreme, and potentially this will continue without a major U-turn in the rhetoric.