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Family Court judge orders preschooler to be vaccinated against father's wishes

By Amy Wiggins/NZ Herald

A 4-year-old girl will be vaccinated without her father's approval after a ruling handed down from the Family Court.

The girl is under the care of Oranga Tamariki so legally has three guardians: her mother, her father and the chief executive of Oranga Tamariki.

The girl attended pre-school, was reaching her developmental milestones and was healthy but had not received any of her childhood vaccinations because her father did not agree to them

He said he had not been able to get sufficient information about the vaccines despite phone calls to the Ministry of Health and so had not been able to do the research he would have liked to do.

He told the court he had not been vaccinated as a child and believed there was no need for immunisations because the human body had its own natural immunity systems

which could safeguard the body against diseases.

The man also said he was concerned about the contents of the vaccines and the potential for side effects. The girl's mother was vaccinated during pregnancy and had consented to her daughter receiving the immunisations.

Oranga Tamariki also supported the girl being vaccinated in accordance with the Ministry of Health guidelines which include rotavirus, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, pneumococcal disease, measles, mumps, and rubella, chicken pox, and human papillomavirus.

Judge Richard John Russell said there were no specific personal or health factors which would prevent the girl being vaccinated so ruled it was in her best interests to be vaccinated.

He directed she be immunised according the Ministry of Health guidelines subject to her GP agreeing it was in her best interests. The GP was also to determine the timing and dosage given they were usually given at six weeks, three months and 15 months of age.

It is not the first time a vaccination stoush has been decided in New Zealand courts. In 2019 a mother filed an application to prevent her child being vaccinated saying she was at risk of an adverse reaction because of other allergies while her father wanted her immunised.