Vaccines & Custody: An Update

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, July 2, 2015.

Parents argue over vaccinating their kids. This has led to bitter custody battles because Florida allows exemptions from vaccines. California is now different. California has a strict new law on school vaccinations – it eliminates all religious exemptions.

As National Public Radio reports:

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” Governor Brown said in a signing statement. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.

Starting July 1, 2016, all children enrolled in California public or private schools or day cares must be vaccinated against whooping cough, measles and other diseases, regardless of parents’ religious and other personal beliefs.

I wrote an article last year about custody rights and vaccinations in Florida. The issue is the intersection of parental rights and religion. Unlike the new California rule, Florida still provides for a religious exemption if vaccinations are in conflict with the religious tenets and practices of the child’s parent or guardian.

In California, it is being reported that “those who opt out will have to be home-schooled or enroll in an independent study program off school grounds.” KQED’s April Dembosky reported last week on the long history behind the anti-vaccination movement:

“From the moment the very first vaccine came on the scene, which was the smallpox vaccine, there has been resistance to vaccines and vaccination,’ says Elena Conis, a history professor at Emory University and author of Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization.

Vaccine disputes are high stakes cases because of the public health issues involved. Americans are again getting sick and dying from vaccine preventable diseases which were once a thing of the past – including measles, mumps and whooping cough.

The CDC is reporting that during 2012, 48,277 cases of pertussis were reported to CDC, including 20 pertussis-related deaths. This was the most reported cases since 1955. The majority of deaths occurred among infants younger than 3 months of age.

There are only two vaccination opinions in Florida, and the facts in each are strikingly similar. In both cases, the parents shared parental responsibility. Both involved chiropractors as parents who were involved in their children’s health care.

Moreover, in both cases the health care professional parent opposed vaccinations. Ironically, the outcomes in the two cases were very different.

Vaccination disputes are interesting and high-stakes cases to watch for as the new school year approaches