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F v F [2013] EWHC 2683 (Fam) MMR Vaccination Case

This case is the one the fuss has been about over the weekend. It is where a court had decided that an 11 and 15 year old should get the MMR vaccination when they and their mother oppose this and the father wants it.

Personally I am supportive of the MMR vaccination and think it is appropriate for my own children. However, I do have some difficulties with the approach of the court particularly in respect of a 15 year old girl. This falls into the questions of Gillick competence and the like.

If you have a toddler or an older child who has no strong views then that is one approach. However, if you have a child who is 15 I feel uncomfortable about forcing a decision on that child.

The courts do seem too willing to impose a judicial decision on people who are from a capacity perspective competent. Before the recess I assisted a young man with Muscular Dystrophy in resisting such an imposition. However, I do think there are issues about the extent to which people's decisions are overridden by the state. I could see a situation in which the state makes a decision that for herd immunity individual discretion is overridden although I am unsure that this justifies such an approach. After all anyone who wishes immunity can have the vaccination and that gives a substantial element of protection.

At this point in theory the vaccination has been given. However, we don't know the story from the perspective of anyone other than the judge.

There is also the issue that this appeared in the media before the anonymous judgment was published on Bailii (or the associated ones from 2011). I note that the judgments went onto Bailii yesterday (Saturday).

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