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Fact Finders: What happens when parents disagree about the vaccine?

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:09 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - For some parents, just deciding whether to give their child the vaccine is a big issue. What happens when parents disagree? How is it decided what will happen with the child?

Parents who are divorced but have joint legal decision-making authority for the child’s medical care may wind up in court. However, it likely will be a much bigger deal than just a judge deciding on the vaccine alone. Alison Briggs, a lawyer with My AZ Lawyers, said the judge will often take it a step further and grant one parent final say of all medical issues in the future.

”I think the judges overall are probably going to want to do that so they don’t see these issues keep coming before them,” she said. “Because if you give people the opportunity, anytime there’s a dispute on anything, will end up filing a motion, will end up having a modification, or filing a request for enforcement.”

What if the parents are married and they aren’t on the same page with the vaccine? Briggs says in Arizona you have equal rights.

“If my husband and I have always gone to the same pediatrician and I bring the children in and I say, ‘Vaccinate them. Everything. Give them everything.’ And the pediatrician says, ‘OK, sounds good. I’m assuming because you’re married you’re on the same page.’ And we’re not, I haven’t really done anything wrong, neither has the provider but it’s hard.”

If parents can’t agree on the vaccine for their children and decide to take it to court it’s going to be a wait. Briggs says right now, it could be months before you get a hearing and then you might not get a ruling right away.

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