Mickey, Measles & Custody

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, February 4, 2015.

The recent outbreak at Disneyland has resulted in more measles cases in one month than the typical number in a year, and has spread it to 14 states. This highlights the link between vaccinating children and custody.

Because of the return of vaccine preventable diseases – some of which were eliminated decades ago – a national discussion is occurring about vaccinating children.

But can the refusal to vaccinate impact your custody case?

I’ve blogged about vaccines before, not vaccinating a child can be detrimental:

– Contracting measles or whooping cough is harmful to a child.

– Public health and school officials send unvaccinated children home from school during outbreaks.

– Unvaccinated children are barred from birthday parties and play dates.

Why do a minority of parents not vaccinate? One reason is fear of autism. The anti-vaccination hysteria can be traced back to a paper by Andrew Wakefield published in the disgraced British medical journal The Lancet.

Wakefield claimed the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to autism. His study was later deemed “fraudulent” and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license.

But the damage was done. MMR vaccination rates declined and California officials have recently determined that the vast majority of those infected never received the MMR vaccine.

The minority of children who are not vaccinated have a big impact. The concept is called herd immunity. If vaccination rates are high, vaccinated people act as a barrier and reduce the risk of infection for people who can’t be immunized.

In Florida, there are two leading cases in which the issue over custody and vaccination was brought to trial and appeal. My new article briefly examines Florida’s parental responsibility statute, including the concept of ultimate authority.

The two Florida cases in which the decision to vaccinate a child was an issue brought to trial is also discussed, and the article traces the development of religion as a factor in parental responsibility cases in Florida.

The article can be read here.