Parental Responsibility During Covid-19

We are currently at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but hope is on the horizon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently authorized two vaccines for emergency use, Pfizer and Moderna. We are months away from minor children receiving the vaccine. Do you have the Parental Responsibility to get your child vaccinated for Covid? Currently, there is no requirement minor children receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but laws can always change. 

The Three Types of Parental Responsibility

Until then, whether or not you have the authority as a divorced, or unmarried parent to get your child vaccinated depends on your medical decision making authority. A parents decision making authority is governed by the type of parental responsibility the court-ordered. In Florida, there are three types of parental responsibility: sole parental responsibility, shared parental responsibility, and the hybrid of ultimate decision making. If you have sole parental responsibility regarding medical decisions then you have the sole authority to make decisions regarding your child’s medical care. Therefore, you would have the authority to have your child vaccinated without the approval of your co-parent. If you have shared parental responsibility then you are required to confer with your other parent regarding medical decisions that affect your minor child. There is a third, hybrid of ultimate decision making, and if you have that for medical decisions, you would be able to make the choice to vaccinate or not.

Court Intervention

In the event, you cannot agree on whether or not to vaccinate your child, you will most likely need to seek court intervention. You would need to show the vaccination is in the minor child’s best interest. You would most likely need to present expert medical testimony regarding the vaccination. Historically, Florida has gone both ways. Siding with the parent who does not want their child vaccinated and other times siding with the parent who wants their child vaccinated. 

What’s Best For Your Child?

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes a reality, co-parents should seriously review the public health information available. They should also discuss with one another what is best for their child. If you are concerned about whether you can have your child vaccinated or prevent the same, contact our office to discuss your parenting plan and other options.

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