How to Handle Vaccination Decisions for Kids After a Divorce
The non-vaccination rate for children in the United States has been increasing for several years, which is leading to many outbreaks of many previously rare diseases such as measles. In particular, only 83.7 percent of children have completed the four or more doses for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis with many parents claiming exemptions for personal reasons. If your spouse has different opinions regarding vaccinating your child after a divorce, this is a matter that will have to be settled with the help of a Jenkintown family lawyer.
Think About the Risk to Your Child
Vaccine-preventable diseases are making a comeback with many outbreaks occurring during the early months of 2019. In communities such as Portland, Oregon; Clark County, Washington; and neighborhoods of New York City, hundreds of children have been sickened with measles. Other outbreaks of rubella and pertussis are making the rounds in vulnerable children, some of whom have been hospitalized. A community-wide vaccination rate of 90 to 95 percent is necessary in order to protect children who cannot receive a vaccine because of medical contraindications. Consider the risk to your child. If your child has a chronic medical condition such as asthma or is around a lot of other vaccinated kids, he or she has a high risk of contracting an illness. Also consider the long-term effects of infections on a child. A childhood case of mumps could cause permanent sterility in males.
Evaluate the Reason for Non-Vaccination
The parent who does not want to vaccinate the child should consider the seriousness of the decision and evaluate his or her reasoning for not wanting to vaccinate. Religion is one reason, but if the child is not being raised according to that doctrine, it may not be valid in court. A parent’s philosophical reasons may also not be valid in the courtroom. The parent who does not want to vaccinate may need to have a respectable medical professional provide testimony as to the benefits of not vaccinating the child.
Consider an Alternative Vaccination Schedule
Many parents object to their children receiving multiple shots in one visit to the pediatrician’s office. They believe that giving a child several vaccinations in a short period of time overwhelms and stresses his or her immune system. This has not been scientifically proven, but people do have anecdotal experiences that cause them to have strong feelings about the situation. With your lawyer’s help, you may be able to negotiate an alternative vaccination schedule with your former spouse. You could plan this with the pediatrician. For example, you could have your child get one vaccination per month.
Ask the Child
Children tend to take on the beliefs of their parents, but it would be wise to ask school-age and teenage children about their preferences. A child might not understand the scientific jargon of vaccine benefits and risks. However, it is important to be aware of the child’s opinion about getting vaccinated. Children can be given information about the pros and cons of vaccination. A pediatrician could do this under the court or family lawyer’s supervision. Teenagers should be able to read information on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website about vaccine benefits and risks. In some communities, teenagers are defying their custodial parents and seeking out vaccinations on their own. Parents should keep this in mind and include their children whenever possible when it comes to making medical decisions.
Working with a Jenkintown family lawyer helps you understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to providing medical care and making medical decisions on behalf of your child. A consultation in Jenkintown with a family lawyer may help you communicate with your ex-spouse about vaccination decisions. To learn more about your parental rights and making medical decisions for your child, contact Joanne Kleiner & Associates by phone at (215) 886-1266.