Vaccinating our child against COVID-19 – what if we can’t agree?

05 October 2021

The government have recently announced that children in New Zealand aged 12 to 15 can now receive the vaccine for COVID-19.  But what if you, as parents, can’t agree if your child should receive the COVID-19, or any other, vaccine?

The decision as to whether your child will be vaccinated is a guardianship matter.  Guardianship matters are the important matters affecting your child, which include (but are not limited to):

  • your child’s name and any changes to it;
  • changes to your child’s place of residence;
  • where and how your child is to be educated;
  • medical treatment for your child (if it’s not routine in nature); and
  • your child’s religious upbringing.

A guardian cannot make these decisions alone, they must act jointly with any other guardians.  

When it comes to medical treatment, a guardian’s right to make decisions about a child’s medical treatment is not unqualified; the decision can be made for, or with, the child or may involve the guardian helping the child to make the decision. 

The Care of Children Act 2004 provides that a child over the age of 16 can give or refuse consent to medical treatment. However, this doesn’t mean that all children under the age of 16 cannot consent to medical treatment; the key to this is how competent a child is to make such a decision.

If you find yourself involved in a guardianship dispute please feel free to contact a member of our family law team.  We can provide you with specific legal advice about your individual circumstances and also discuss options with you to try to resolve the matter, e.g mediation.  Alternatively, if required, we can advise and help with an application to the Family Court to determine the dispute. 



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