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Kids can get COVID-19 shots without father's consent, Port Coquitlam judge rules

The daughters' father wanted more information about vaccine safety for children before providing consent, but the judge ruled his anti-vaccination evidence wasn't verifiable and the shots were in the girls' best interest.
The Tri-Cities is one of the top communities in Fraser Health for children’s COVID-19 vaccinations.

A Port Coquitlam judge has given a B.C. mom the authorization to have her two daughters vaccinated against COVID-19 without the father's consent.

Judge H. Lee made the decision June 21 after a hearing at PoCo Supreme Court in which a couple who have shared custody of their daughters were in disagreement over whether or not they should get a dose.

In his decision, Judge Lee said the shots would be in the girls' best interest.

The daughters, aged seven and nine, previously had COVID-19. The younger girl was feverish for two days, with coughing, vomiting, runny nose and a rash.

She had also been recovering from having tubes placed in her ears, which hadn't quite healed and could get infected, which did not happen, the judge noted, while the older daughter had similar symptoms with a lower fever and no vomiting.

The mother, identified as A.T., was told by her doctor the girls should be vaccinated. The father, identified as C.H., wanted to take a "wait and see" approach.

He was worried there wasn't enough evidence to guarantee the vaccine was safe for children and told the judge there was no vaccine mandate for children.

Anti-vaccination documents not accepted evidence

Both parents submitted information in their case to the judge.

A.T. provided two doctors' letters and print outs from government sources about COVID-19 and its risks, vaccine safety and recommendations for children five and older.

Meanwhile, C.H. provided a print out titled "Vaccine Research and Development" from Johns Hopkins University stating the usual timeline for a vaccine can be 10 years or more.

Additionally, he supplied a print out of a blog post titled "Lawyers for Justice - Release of Pfizer Documents," which discussed the "release or possible release of hundreds of thousands of pages relating to the development of the Pfizer vaccine."

However, the judge said it lack citations for verification and the author was not named.

Judge Lee said the parents were "good parents," but he was required to consider the "best interests" of the children while taking a number of factors into consideration, including previous case law and COVID-19 risks.

Risks of COVID-19 outweigh minimal risks of the vaccine

"The case law is clear that the court can take judicial notice of certain facts," stated Lee, who cited several cases that have been dealt with in courts across Canada, including an Alberta case where a father also wanted to take a "wait and see" approach.

"The court concluded that the risks of COVID-19 far outweighed the minimal risks of the vaccine," Lee added.

"These concerns remain applicable today even if variants of the COVID-19 virus result in less serious symptoms for most people. I take judicial notice that to this day, people are still being hospitalized and dying from COVID-19."

While pointing out that neither A.T. nor C.H. provided "expert" evidence that meets B.C. family law standards, Lee said his decision does not require a review of evidence but could instead be made based on "judicial notice of various facts, without having to prove them."

Among the facts he noted was the pandemic and restrictions, health risks of COVID-19 to both adults and children, and the fact that the "the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective for use in both children and adults."

As well, he said the lack of a universal mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement does not mean the vaccines are unsafe.

Judge Lee said C.H. failed to provide adequate rebuttal, and said a "wait and see" approach was "not in the best interests of a child, especially when weighed against the risks of COVID-19 itself." 

He gave A.T. "parenting responsibility and authorization to obtain for the children the COVID-19 vaccination, including two doses and a booster if and when recommended, without the consent of C.H."