vaccination

What to Do When My Spouse and I Disagree on Our Child’s Immunization


To Immunize or Not

Science and medical research have come a pretty long way. Health care has vastly improved and benefited humankind since its inception. There is the development of drugs, finding safer ways to perform surgeries and new technologies for diagnosis and treatment.

Despite all the science and research, it may still be hard to convince people of what is necessary and effective. A good example of this would be when it comes to immunizations. For the past few years or so, doubt regarding the safety and necessity of vaccines has been coming up. There are movements where parents choose not to vaccinate their children. It’s not much of a problem if you and your co-parent are on the same page. What if you’re not?

Vaccines and Distrust Towards Them

The Good

Since the development of the first vaccine by Edward Jenner, it was discovered that certain diseases could be prevented. The eventual development of vaccines has helped decrease the incidence of diseases that were discovered to be preventable, even eradicating smallpox and polio.

Vaccines eventually became a useful tool for public health. It proved to help keep people healthy by controlling the occurrence of diseases. Immunizations work by helping people get immunity to those certain diseases.

The Bad

While this seemed to be a great thing, a study in the 1990s came out claiming that vaccines caused autism. This caused people to panic and begin to avoid vaccinations. Eventually, the study was debunked. However, damage done to people’s perception of vaccines could not be undone. It left distrust as to the efficacy of vaccines.

And as if that wasn’t enough, people began to even think that vaccines had been just a way for “Big Pharma” to make money out of people and also get them sick just so that they could keep making money by selling the drugs needed to help treat those diseases that vaccines were claimed to cause. It was because of things like this that caused some people to steer clear of vaccines.

Parents who are against vaccines also allege that they should be in charge of their children’s bodies and health. To them, such compulsion is an invasion of their privacy and self-determination.

What Do I Do?

Before doing anything rash, take some time to sit down with your spouse or co-parent. You can find out about the pros and cons and decide on what is best for your children. There may be personal circumstances unique to your family. For example, if one of your children is immunocompromised, it might be best to immunize all of your children. There are a lot of factors to consider as family. Medical research, such as those you can find in articles and academic journals are pretty easy to access.

Texas Law on Vaccines

As for the State of Texas, children are required to be given vaccines for them to attend school. Some states, however, do not require such. The common reason is public health especially in the case of children prone to easily spread communicable diseases in school. Refusing to give your child can become a public health risk and also a risk to your child’s health.

If both of you end up agreeing that you are against vaccination, you will have to move to a county that exempts children from vaccinations. You can talk to your lawyer on how to be exempted or go about it.

The reasons that one may opt-out of vaccinations would be primarily due to religious reasons and medical reasons. There are cases when vaccines will leave your child having a condition or an allergy. But even so, one would have to provide evidence to get these exemptions.

Let the Court Decide

Should you disagree and both have primary custody, you can then choose to take legal action and take it to court. Not only is it not vaccinating your child a public health risk, but also a violation of their right to get vaccinated. In some extreme cases even, this can be considered as a form of neglect, as it is seen that not getting your child vaccinated can negatively impact their health and not in the best interest of the child.

If you find yourself in a situation where your spouse does not agree with you on your child’s immunization and you believe you’ve exhausted every way you could possibly try to convince them otherwise, you could seek legal help. By seeking legal help, you can at least understand the rights of your child to health and vaccines and figure out what course of action to take in order to help you with your predicament.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas.

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