A judge has ordered a young Auckland boy to be vaccinated against Covid-19 after his parents clashed over the jab.
The boy, who cannot be named, is a “fit and healthy” 5-year-old with no medical problems, according to his GP.
His case landed in the Pukekohe Family Court after his mother applied for an order to resolve a dispute between herself and his father.
The court heard his mother wanted the boy to receive the Pfizer vaccine, while his father was opposed.
She heard the boy’s mother was keen to get him vaccinated as his chances of catching Covid had “greatly increased” since he started school.
He had received all his other immunisations and had no adverse reactions, she said.
Janice Harland, who had been appointed as the boy’s lawyer, also supported him being vaccinated.
However, his father was against the move, saying the risks outweighed the benefits as young children generally only suffered mild symptoms from Covid.
The man said he himself was vaccinated, but “if he had been able to retain his job without being vaccinated, he would not have been vaccinated”.
Judge Ginnen agreed children typically only suffered mild symptoms from Covid-19, but noted the virus could cause serious complicationsincluding respiratory failure, myocarditis and multi-organ failure.
In response to concerns around the vaccine’s safety from the boy’s father, Judge Ginnen pointed to clinical trials that showed children who received the Pfizer vaccine generally only had mild side effects such as a sore arm, headache or fatigue.
While the Pfizer jab had reduced efficacy against Omicron, now the dominant strain in New Zealand, it was still recommended by the Ministry of Health, the judge said.
Judge Ginnen said she was satisfied the vaccine was safe and it was in the boy’s best interests to receive it.
She ordered he get his first jab “as soon as possible”, then the second eight weeks later, as recommended by the ministry.
“If a booster shot is later recommended by the Ministry of Health for 5 to 11-year-olds, I order that he receive that too.”
In February, a Dunedin court ordered an 11-year-old boy to be vaccinated against Covid-19 after his parents couldn’t agree, while in March a judge ruled a 12-year-old could make up his own mind whether he got a jab.
Their father was also not allowed to see the children until they had been vaccinated.
According to Ministry of Health data, 28% of children aged 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated since becoming eligible on January 17, while 56% have had one dose.