15-year-old says he wants the vaccine so he can go to town and to the cinema again
A judge has given the go-ahead for a Covid-19 vaccine to be administered to a 15-year-old boy with a disability against the wishes of the boy’s mother.
At the Family Law Court, Judge Mary Larkin has used a provision in the Child Care Act to allow the Child and Family Agency (CFA) to proceed with the vaccination of the teenager.
Solicitor for the CFA, Muiris Gavin, told Judge Larkin that the boy’s mother was opposed to him being vaccinated.
Judge Larkin granted the order to the CFA under Section 47 of the Childcare Act after the boy's GP in a letter stated that due to his disabilities the boy “is at risk of serious and potentially fatal complications should he contract the Covid-19 infection”.
The court heard that the boy has told his dedicated social worker that he wants the vaccine so that he can go out to town and the cinema again.
Judge Larkin said that, at the boy’s age, "the voice of the child” in the court proceedings has to trump the view of others with a different view.
Judge Larkin stated: “The tenor and thrust of all medical data and evidence is that people with underlying needs have greater need to be vaccinated than anyone else. I have no difficulty in granting the order that he receive the vaccine.”
The teenager has been in full-time care with the CFA since he was aged four after the agency secured a full care order in 2010.
The teenager has since lived with foster carers.
The boy’s allocated social worker told Judge Larkin that the teenager wants the Covid-19 vaccine.
The social worker told the court: “He is currently not vaccinated and life has become extremely limited for him since March 2020."
She stated that at a meeting with the boy in September “when I asked him does he want the Covid-19 vaccine he replied ‘yes’ and when I asked why he told me 'because I want to go to the cinema and go into town’".
The social worker said that the teenager has a range of medical issues and has a mild to moderate intellectual disability.
Asked by Judge Larkin does she believe the boy receiving the Covid-19 vaccine is in the boy’s best interests, the social worker replied: “I do, judge, because he is at home and rarely goes out unless he is in a car or goes to his respite carers three afternoons a week.”
She stated: “His whole life is centred around the house and it has affected his mental health…He gets very angry with his foster carers because he finds his life very limited.”
The social worker stated that a more recent letter from a different GP in the same medical practice stated that the teenager's medical problems “render him more susceptible at developing complications should he contract Covid-19”.
The social worker stated that the boy’s two foster carers both want him to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
In response to queries from Judge Larkin, the social worker said that the boy does not see his biological parents.
She stated that the boy’s father is the only one who is in contact with him.
The social worker stated that the father sends him a Christmas card and a gift of money at Christmas time.
She stated that "the boy decided back in 2009 that he didn’t want to see his father - seeing his father was frightening for him".
Mr Gavin stated that he was in contact with the boy’s mother’s solicitor who was not able to get in contact with the mother before court but that her last communication was that she was opposed to her son receiving the vaccine.
Mr Gavin stated that the woman’s solicitor had no instructions for the case.
Judge Larkin stated that the child is in the care of the CFA and decisions for this child are to be made by the CFA.