Court Battles Over COVID-19 Vaccines for Children in Texas

Leslie Barrows
 | Published: 
November 30, 2021
 | Category: 
Health Care

Parents Suing in Court Over Vaccines for Children: There Are a Few Options

Regardless of where parents stand on disagreements about COVID vaccines for children, we rightfully assume that both parents want the best for children. Sometimes those good intentions become clouded by resentment against the other parent over the same reasons they are not together in the first place. And when it comes to disagreeing about vaccines for their children, parents might argue that when they agreed to their current custody order, they were operating under the assumption that language about vaccines was meant for the standard vaccines offered under traditional Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, as opposed to the COVID vaccines available under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

Emotions run high and it can seem like every move we make could be the end of the world. The endless arguments in the media and on social media are turning too many people into self-learned experts on a variety of issues. When everyone fights over competing expert opinions their arguments and lawsuits start forming and being filed as parents start suing in court over vaccines for children.  

Options for parents with disagreements over vaccines include enforcing and/or modifying their current custody orders to resolve the dispute. In either case, a modification or enforcement action is a new and separate lawsuit with all the formalities the parents experienced in their original divorce or custody suit. For those with immediate concerns, who don’t have the time for the traditional process, emergency hearings can happen, and the court can order temporary relief, pending further hearing or trial. However, alternative dispute resolution can be a much better approach. Using a mediator, a parenting coordinator or a parenting facilitator can help co-parents iron out their disagreements and reach a conclusion. That said, it’s difficult to compromise on the issue of whether a vaccine is given to a child because that is not something that can be undone.  

Read Our Article: Making the Case for Using Parenting Facilitators

The Barrows Firm in Southlake receives frequent calls and emails from parents with concerns about whether their child can or must be vaccinated against COVID and its variant forms. With questions and concerns about court battles over vaccines for children, please call and make an appointment to speak with Attorney Leslie Barrows at (817) 481-1583.

What Does Your Court Order Say About Medical Decisions? Do Both Parents Have to Consent?

In Texas, what we refer to as child custody, is called conservatorship. A parent may be appointed as a joint managing conservator, a sole managing conservator, or a possessory conservator. Most divorced parents are joint conservators and they both have a say about medical decisions including vaccinations. When determining issues about custody and medical care, the court order will identify specific rights and duties. In child custody litigation, either the parties agree to settle their unresolved issues or have their Court decide. In some cases, where both parents have a legal right to make medical decisions and disagree, there is a tie-breaker who can decide, such as the child’s doctor.  

Court battles over vaccines for children get interesting when the custody order addressing vaccines is based on the standard language used by many. And what is stated about regular and customary vaccinations may be distinguished from the COVID vaccines, and whether they are technically vaccines within the meaning of the word vaccine, as written in the order if it is even that specific. Courts are being asked to decide whether the parties intended to agree on vaccine choices and whether that applies to the Novel Coronavirus Vaccine options.  

Moving forward with the benefit of knowledge and experience, more custody orders in the future may be crafted with special attention paid to vaccines and how to resolve disputes among co-parents. As more information is learned, some parents might elect to have their custody agreements modified or enforced as necessary to act as parents in the best interests of their children.  

Barrows Firm Podcast: What Does a Modification Case Look Like in Texas?

The Novel Coronavirus is a New Strain, Not Previously Identified in Humans

The “novel” Coronavirus is new and different, a matter of first impression. For this very reason, the arguments on all sides of the several issues involved are about something new and unknown. Science is defined by the Google Dictionary as “The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” Knowledge about the world is always changing, and thus so is science. What we now accept as truth, was once conjecture. Science is an ongoing study and academic pursuit and what may be “good science” one day, could be tossed out the next when more information is learned. To put it simply, it’s our best guess given the information we have at the time.  

As time goes on, and as doctors and scientists study patient data, therapeutics, vaccines, and everything COVID-related, that science evolves and there are more answers. But when it comes to court battles over vaccines for children, parents do not have time to wait 50 years to see all the data and science on point. Another interesting point about COVID vaccines is that they are not technically vaccines. Because COVID is not a live virus, the way traditional vaccines work does not apply the same way. What we are referring to as vaccines for children are therapeutic gene therapies, which is also the subject of much disagreement and many are fighting over words and semantics.  

CDC: Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines for Children

What Do We Know and What Don’t We Know: The Jury is Still Out on Many Issues Related to COVID

It is very easy to find articles that blame vaccine disputes on vaccine “misinformation,” which minimizes the valid concerns of parents. There are many sources of confusion about health decisions we make with children. People have been disagreeing about medical care for a long time, way before anyone heard of COVID. And while most believe the vaccines are safe and appropriate for children, not everyone agrees, and they should not be forced into making up their minds.  

The vaccines at issue were given Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and some parents chose not to get a vaccine, for themselves or their children. Those in opposition are concerned about future complications and side effects, which remain unknown. The very enforceability of vaccine mandates has yet to be determined, as lawsuits are pending in state and federal courts. Those who support vaccines rely on information they receive from government agencies and news sources.  

Among the medical community, there are disagreements among physicians over vaccines and their safety, especially when it comes to children. Some doctors are comfortable saying they believe there is too much missing information to make an informed medical decision. There is a big difference between missing information and misinformation.  

Learn the Rights and Options Parents Have in Enforcing or Modifying Custody Orders and Resolving Disputes About Vaccines for Children at the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583