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Mother taken to court for refusing to allow daughter to have swine flu vaccination
12-01-2009, 10:42 PM,
Mother taken to court for refusing to allow daughter to have swine flu vaccination
Quote:The 44-year-old, a former international consultant, opted to take her daughter, 9, out of the immunisation programme run at her private school because she had reservations about the safety of the vaccine.

After spending hours researching it and speaking with friends in the medical profession, she decided that not enough was known about the long-term effects of the vaccine, and that her child, who has no medical problems, should not have it.

However, when news of her choice reached her former partner, 46, a financial consultant, he strongly disagreed.

He has now launched a civil action in the family court division of the Jersey Royal Court in the hope it will decide that the girl must be inoculated.

It is the first case of its kind and could set a precedent for future parental disputes over the vaccine

Her mother told The Daily Telegraph: "I would die a million deaths for my little girl, I love her dearly and don't want to see any harm come to her, but I sincerely believe having this vaccination is not in her best interests.

"I have researched the vaccination extensively, the decision I have made is an informed one. I do not want my daughter to have it.

"My daughter is an extremely healthy child so I don't believe swine flu poses that much of a threat to her. A girl in her class had it, but the symptoms were not too bad, she just complained of a sore throat and feeling out of sorts.

"If she gets swine flu then she will build immunity naturally, and I will nurse her night and day until she is better.

"I am concerned about the long term impact of the vaccination. We were all told in the 1970s that thalidomide was safe for pregnant women, and look what happened."

The couple, who both live on Jersey, split acrimoniously over two years ago after a relationship of more than a decade.

They have since been embroiled in a separate legal dispute over the terms of a pre-nuptial-style contract they signed when she left her job to raise their daughter.

They cannot be named for legal reasons.

The mother said: "My former partner is adamant that he wants her to have the swine flu vaccine.

"I received an email from him saying he really wanted her to have the vaccine and I wrote back explaining my reasons and telling him it wasn't a decision I had taken lightly.

"The next thing I know, I received a letter telling me to attend court on Monday. His letter notified me of his application for a specific issue order, which I am told means our daughter could be made a ward of court and the judge could decide that she must have the injection.

"He knows I can't afford lawyers to fight him."

NHS figures show that under 16s are the age group most likely to be admitted to hospital with swine flu, while 21 per cent of deaths in England are among under-14s.

The Government says that trials of the swine flu vaccine have proved it to be as safe as the normal seasonal flu vaccine.

However, a poll of doctors for Pulse Magazine found that 49 per cent would refuse to have it, while a similar survey for GP magazine found 29 per cent would opt out, with 71 per cent stating safety fears as their reason why.

Most of the children at the girl's school have had the inoculation over the past two weeks after consent forms were sent home to parents.

Her mother said: "The fear of god has been struck into parents and children over swine flu, especially on this island, and I think it is totally out of proportion.

"She is aware of what is happening and she is aware of all the risks but she still does not want it. She knows that if she gets swine flu she will feel unwell.

"What are they going to do to make her have this? Hold her down?"

A legal source confirmed that the application has been lodged with the court and there will be a preliminary hearing on Monday.

He said: "The parents have split and there has been a lot of acrimony but I am not going to comment on what is going on there.

"The father genuinely thinks it is in his daughter's best interests to receive the immunisation. He would take the view that he would rely on what the medical authorities advise, rather than information collected from the internet where there is a lot of misinformation to be found.

"The court will consider what is best for the welfare of the child, and that is its only consideration."

The swine flu vaccine is not offered in schools in England and Wales, although it was recently announced that children aged between 6 months and five years will be invited to have the inoculation at their GP surgery.

However, in Jersey, all children from nursery age to 18 years old have been urged to have either the Pandenrix or Celvapan vaccination at their schools, under the guidance of the Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rosemary Geller.

A spokesman for the States of Jersey Department of Health and Social Services said: "We urge parents to have their children vaccinated but it is certainly not compulsory, parents have to sign a consent form.

"I understand our approach is different to England but that is because we are a very small island with a population of just 100,000 people. We have got through our high risk groups very quickly and have moved on to inoculate children because data suggests they are more susceptible.

"For that reason we have urged parents to consent to the vaccination because our hospital only has a limited capacity for intensive care patients."

The Health Protection Agency estimates there have been 760,000 cases of swine flu in England since the pandemic began and 163 deaths.

There have been 607 confirmed cases of swine flu in Jersey, and no deaths.
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