Judge: HHJ Hilder
Citation:  EWCOP 65
IOSK was 17 years old at the time of the decision, turning 18 the following month, and subject to a care order.
As part of wider welfare proceedings, the local authority applied for a decision that it was in IOSK’s best interests to be vaccinated against Covid-19. His parents both opposed the application and both believed that IOSK had an adverse reaction to the MMR vaccine as a child. IOSK’s mother was also concerned that if he had a negative reaction this would not be identified timeously, due to her wider concerns about the standard of his care; IOSK’s father advanced a number of arguments in his written evidence but submissions by counsel on his behalf focused on the risk of adverse reactions.
The relationship between the parents and the local authority had become ‘to put it mildly, very strained’. (paragraph 6) Perhaps as a result of this, the local authority made an application for special measures to be applied for the questioning of their witness: if IOSK’s father was unrepresented, he would put questions in writing which would be put to the witness by the judge (he was ultimately represented by counsel).
HHJ Hilder held that vaccination was in IOSK’s best interests. Although his parents’ fears arising from their beliefs about the MMR vaccine were real, there is simply no scientific basis for such concerns. Given that IOSK was residing in a placement outside the parents’ home, their concerns and the anxiety IOSK’s being vaccinated would cause for them could have no effect on his welfare and accordingly could be accorded no weight (paragraph 34). The evidence did not support any view that IOSK was receiving inadequate care.
The evidence was that IOSK liked being outside and active, and enjoyed social contact on his own terms. The court was satisfied that vaccination was in IOSK’s best interests and made an order approving a plan setting out how the vaccination was to occur, including IOSK having the opportunity to familiarize himself with the vaccination centre in advance.
The judgment also contains a helpful summary of the case law on vaccination in the context of the pandemic at :
I have been referred to a number of recent decisions about covid-19 vaccination: