Abu Dhabi: A Saudi woman has sued her husband for refusing to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19, saying by doing this the father is depriving his children of education and leading a normal life, local media reported.
What the guardian has done falls under Article 2 of the Child Protection Law, and cases of neglect that require accountability, said Faisal bin Turki Gharbi, lawyer for the mother.
Even in the case of divorced parent, whether or not a child gets vaccinated is a joint legal custody decision, Gharbi added.
“Non-emergency medical treatment, counselling, school choice and religious upbringing are also some of the major decisions that fall under the umbrella of joint legal custody,” he said.
Gharbi said if parents cannot reach agreements in these scenarios, the family court, which has jurisdiction over that child must make the decision.
The lawyer said like other vaccination cases, the court will decide whether a child is to be vaccinated against COVID-19, based on the best interest factors. In essence, the court will look at the particular facts of each case, such as each parent’s reasons for or against vaccination, specific health risks in the family, school or activity requirements, and most importantly, a medical expert opinion.
The lawyer advised if parents share joint legal custody of their child and they do not agree on whether to have the child immunised, neither parent should act unilaterally.
“If discussions with the child’s doctor do not help the parents reach consensus, then the court will need to make the decision. Parents should contact a family law attorney to determine what steps to take and how best to prepare themselves for this important decision,” the lawyer suggested.