Advocate Matthew Godden of Le Gallais & Luce has successfully represented the father of a child in Jersey with the court ruling that the child should have its MMR and flu vaccinations.
This is the first reported vaccination case in Jersey in relation to a child that has been brought before the Family Registrar in the Royal Court, so setting a precedent.
Advocate Godden explained to Channel Eye, “The precedent set here relates to the position that the Court will take when there is a dispute between parents in Jersey as to vaccinations. Where the scientific evidence clearly establishes that it is in the best medical interests of children to be vaccinated in accordance with Public Health guidance then unless there is either (1) a credible development in medical science or new peer-reviewed research evidence indicating significant concern for the efficacy and/or safety of the vaccine and/or (2) there is a well evidenced medical contraindication specific to the child, the Court will very likely order that the child should be vaccinated.”
Contraindication in medicine is a condition that serves as a reason not to take a certain medical treatment due to the harm that it would cause the patient. Contraindication is the opposite of indication which is a reason to use a certain treatment.
Ahead of the case being heard, both parties were given leave to serve and file a report from their own chosen expert which the father did, but the mother failed to do.
During the case the mother claimed that there was a medical contraindication as to why the child should not have the vaccinations, claiming that the vaccines posed a significant health risk which outweighed the benefit to the child of having them.
The Mother stated that she was not against vaccines but raised specific concerns as the child in question suffered from asthma and other allergies, and so she believed that the risks were not the same as for other children.
The Court heard evidence from the father and his chosen paediatrician, Dr David Lawrenson, and found Dr Lawrenson to be clear in his advice that “the benefits of receiving either vaccine outweigh any risks posed by them.”
Dr Lawrenson confirmed that measles, mumps and rubella are all potentially dangerous illnesses, however acknowledged that for the child at this stage in life, the risk from influenza to be modest.
The court concluded that the mother had not provided any reliable evidence of medical contraindication.
Advocate Godden said, “Whilst the Court said that both parents had the child’s welfare as their priority, they ultimately found that it was in the child’s best interest to have the MMR and flu vaccinations. Whilst not compulsory, this important case makes clear the position the court will take when there is a dispute between parents in Jersey as to vaccinations.”