What If Parents Disagree About Vaccinating a Child for COVID?
When divorced parents share legal custody, each one has an equal say in the children’s medical care. So what happens when parents do not see eye-to-eye over the COVID-19 vaccine?
New York State made the COVID-19 vaccine available to children 12 years old and older starting in May 2021, with the goal of making shots available to younger children in the ensuing months. Parents have been able to choose whether or not to get their child vaccinated, but strong feelings in favor of and against the vaccine have created rifts between co-parents. A child cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine in New York without parental consent. If one parent signs a consent form on their own, this can lead to a legal dispute that a court may have to resolve.
Parents who are at odds over the vaccine tend to be motivated by the same ultimate desire: to protect the best interests of their children. Though overcoming differences of opinion about the vaccine is no easy feat, there are constructive actions parents can take to try to get on the same page. These include:
- Listening to your child — Teenagers tend to have their own opinions about decisions related to their health and may express a desire to receive or avoid the vaccine. If your child is old enough to do their own research and understand the potential pros and cons of being vaccinated, it is wise to take their preference into account. With proof of vaccination now required in order to attend many venues, social events and extracurriculars in New York, be aware that your child may be unable to engage in their favorite activities without being vaccinated.
- Explaining your position — Sit down with your child’s other parent and explain why you believe your child should or should not be vaccinated. If providing research from trusted sources proves unpersuasive, share how you believe the vaccination decision will impact your family and your child in the long-term and short-term.
- Using a mediator — If you are unable to sway your co-parent on your own, it may be time to talk to a neutral third-party. A therapist, mediator, medical professional or trusted advisor who does not have ties to you or your former spouse may be able to help you both think through alternate perspectives and come to an understanding.
If your co-parent will not budge, your hands may be tied. Divorced or separated parents who share custody of their child may go to court and ask a judge to make a decision that is best for the child.
The family law attorneys at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., in Melville, New York assist Long Island parents through conflicts over child medical care and other issues related to child custody. To schedule your free legal consultation, call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online.