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A father wins the right to vaccinate his children.

A Sydney father has been given permission by the court to vaccinate his children. (Note: This is a stock image).

A Sydney father has been given permission by the court to vaccinate his children.

It might seem bizarre that he even needs permission from a court but there is a reason why.

Mr Randall, 52, has been involved in a long and arduous legal dispute with the mother of his children, who is against vaccinations.

The Family Court heard that 42-year-old Ms Duke-Randall – a pseudonym – believes her children suffer from allergies that will make them more at risk of “vaccine damage”. An immunology specialist gave evidence to the court that the children were healthy and did not have any allergies.

Ms Duke-Randall had submitted hundreds of documents to the court, including articles about the non-existent link between vaccinations and autism.

The father told the court that while he had agreed to his ex-wife’s stance when they were together “for the sake of peace in the household’’, after they separated he became more concerned. He told the court he was worried about his children – aged 12 and 14 – being excluded from school in the event of an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease.

Some of the family’s relatives were also concerned about letting their own children play with the kids – because they weren’t vaccinated. According to the father, he ”was simply unable to negotiate with [the mother] on the issue”.

Louise Hall reported for Fairfax that while the parents fought over other issues, both were restrained from vaccinating the children until this January. However, the order was discharged when Justice Foster found that the mother had deliberately delayed proceedings. Justice Foster said Ms Duke-Randall had become “narrowly focused on [vaccines], perhaps to the point where the best interests of her children have been subsumed”.

It has now been recommended that the children be brought up to date on standard childhood immunisations.

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This is, alarmingly, not the first time the Family Court in Australia has played a role in vaccination disputes between parents.

This is – alarmingly – not the first time the Family Court in Australia has played a role in vaccination disputes between parents.

At the beginning of the year, Mamamia reported on a case where a mother took her former husband to court because she “vehemently oppose[d]” his request to have their two children vaccinated. She argued that vaccinations should be defined as a “special medical procedure”. (Which would give it the same legal status as gender reassignment surgery, the sexual sterilisation of intellectually disabled children, and – perhaps the most congruent example – opposing lifesaving medicine and procedures on the basis of religious grounds.)

In 2013, an eight-year-old girl who had secretly been receiving vaccinations from her pro-vax father – because he did not want to play “Russian roulette with her health” – continued to receive vaccinations after the court’s ruling despite her mother’s objections.

In 2011, the court was involved in another dispute between divorced parents and ruled that a five-year-old girl should receive vaccinations despite objections from her mother.

Mamamia wrote at the time:

The fact that these cases continue to be seen in Australian courts is frankly a little bit scary – and evidence of the pervasiveness of anti-vaccination rhetoric.

That normal, everyday parents who love their kids and just want to do the best for them – but who are not doctors themselves – have been seduced by unsubstantiated research and internet conspiracy theories is incredibly worrying.

That these parents have been convinced so completely that they are willing to embroil their children in lengthy and costly court cases is even more so.

And it’s something we all need to keep fighting against, and talking about. Because it isn’t just a matter of principle – children’s lives are at stake.

That sentiment still stands. If it takes a court case to have a child vaccinated, then it’s worth it.

Because that vaccination might save their life.

This is a gallery of common myths about vaccines and why they’re wrong. It’s a good one to use when you’re faced with anti-vaccination rhetoric.

Click here if you’d like to know what to say when faced with anti-vaccination rhetoric.

Click here if you’d like to know what it’s like to grow up unvaccinated.

Click here to see an example of how quickly dangerous and vaccine-preventable diseases can spread once the majority of the population is not being vaccinated.

What do you think should happen when parents disagree about vaccines? Are you shocked or scared that the Family Court are seeing cases like this? 

Tags: kids , lead , vaccination , health-and-wellbeing
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