The COVID-19 Vaccine and Joint Custody Determinations

What if parents disagree on whether or not to give their children the vaccine?

A few of our clients have begun to reach out to ask the question: What happens if my ex and I disagree about whether our child(ren) should receive the COVID-19 vaccine?  It’s a fair question to ask.  Business Insider notes that some of the most infamous viruses, such as smallpox, required centuries of research before a vaccine could be produced, while researchers managed to get vaccines approved for use in the United States against COVID-19 in less than a year.  But the rush for a treatment has raised a question in some minds regarding the safety of the vaccine – did we move too quickly?

When it comes to inoculating our children against COVID, that’s a question we don’t actually need to answer for most of those under 18 at this point.  Although there are more than 57 COVID-19 vaccines that are going through the clinical trial phase, only two have been approved for emergency use in the United States – the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.  The Pfizer vaccine, however, has only been approved for those aged 16 or older, while the Moderna vaccine is only approved for those 18 or older.  So the answer to our client’s question is a simple one….for now: don’t worry about it!  Beyond the limited doses of the vaccine and the unlikelihood that there would be enough supply to distribute to children in the near future, there is the fact that there is not a vaccine approved for children under 16, so parents really don’t need to worry about this just yet.

Having said that, it’s an important question to start thinking about.  What if one parent wants to give children a COVID-19 vaccine, when one becomes available, and the other parent is not on board with giving the vaccine?  How do we overcome that obstacle when most joint custody arrangements require the parties to agree on “major health and education” decisions?  Of course, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if this decision, when applicable, was taken out of your hands.  As the CDC writes, most states actually have a number of vaccines that are required for your child’s enrollment and attendance at a childcare facility or school in that state.  New Jersey’s requirements can be found here.  It’s not hard to imagine that the COVID-19 vaccine, once one is approved and available for vaccinating children, will be added to that list, thus making the decision for most parents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a scary time for parents who have had to take on greater responsibilities than they already had beforehand.  It can be even more scary and difficult if you aren’t on good terms with the other parent to your child or children.  In that case, major decisions like these can seem impossible to figure out.  At Daly & Associates, we are here to help guide you in figuring out how to come to a solution that puts your children first.  If you have a question about this issue, or wish to speak to us about any issue related to family law, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at (973) 292-9222 or e-mail .  We’re here for you on a “Daly” basis!

Children, COVID, COVID-19, Custody, Vaccine

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