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Can social services force a child to be vaccinated?

(35 Posts)

Bit of a theoretical question, based on a real life situation that I don't really know enough about for this to be anything but hypothetical, but was wondering about the legallity as well as the morals.

A friend of a friend has had her young children removed and put into temporary care and one is a baby. They have not had all their vaccinations (possibly due to neglect rather than empowered decision). Social services (apparently) are saying that part of taking care of the child is making sure their vaccinations are up to date.

Can social services do this against the parents wishes?

Louboo2245 Sun 18-Nov-12 17:57:33

I thought that vaccines were a parental choice? So if mum says no, social services have to listen surely?

SamSmalaidh Sun 18-Nov-12 18:01:08

If the parent has lost care of the children due to neglect, then social services need to act in the child's best interests. I imagine that would include routine vaccinations, check-ups, sending them to school etc.

Well I'm not so sure. Social services appear to be using the refusal of parental consent against them to justify their claim that they are unsuitable parents, - and saying that the have powers to make sure it happens, even if that means removing parenting rights.

Rhinosaurus Sun 18-Nov-12 18:05:11

Depends if the child has a full care order, which gives the local council PR.

If there isn't a full care order the mum cannot be forced to consent, as the child will not be at significant harm if they don't have their immunisations, unless there was an outbreak.

The main thing is that the parent is making an "informed" decision based on recent evidence, and may be expected to rationalise her decision not to have them.

'then social services need to act in the child's best interests. I imagine that would include routine vaccinations'

Hmm, I would expect these parents to get the children back tbh. As I said, I'm not certain about all the details but I think this is a temporary 'blip' wrt the parenting rather than ongoing neglect, mixed with a bit of misunderstanding. The parents sought help for themselves in the first place.

Many parents who are not neglectful don't think that vaccinations are in the interests of the child, so not vaccinating surely shouldn't be used against them and overridden!?

SamSmalaidh Sun 18-Nov-12 18:07:09

If there's a care order, then legal social services also have parental responsibility for the children - I think that does mean that social services are legally able to consent to medical treatment for the children.

SamSmalaidh Sun 18-Nov-12 18:10:39

I think this will hinge on whether there is a care order or not. Choosing not to have a child vaccinated might not be neglectful (though it depends on the circumstances I suppose) but generally neglecting the children's health needs, not taking them for appointments or getting illnesses treated, failing to attend appointments etc would be.

laptopcomputer Sun 18-Nov-12 18:18:59

My friend has had care of her now 3.5 yr old granddaughter since she was 16 weeks and the babys mother walked out. The child didn't have her vaccines until she was 3 and her grandparents got an SGO (which effectively means they have shared PR with the mother). Up to that point no GP would give the vaccines as the mother was the only one with PR and would not give permission for them. And that was def not an empowered decision and SS didn't seem to give a damn. although possibly because they were supporting the GPs going for an SGO and therefore knew she would get the vaccines in the end?

RyleDup Sun 18-Nov-12 18:23:19

If ssd has shared parental responsibility, then yes they can do this.

tethersend Sun 18-Nov-12 18:46:07

As others have said, it depends who has PR; but it is a very interesting question to ask if non-vaccination is in itself being cited as a sign of neglect. Is not vaccinating your child neglectful?

AngelsWithSilverWings Sun 18-Nov-12 18:51:30

When I adopted my children I had shared parental responsibility with the local authority until the adoption was finalised ( about 4 months after they were placed with me)

During that time I had no choice in whether to vaccinate or not. My local authority had the final say and insisted in all vaccinations being carried out.

For me it made it easier as think I may have struggled to make a decision about the MMR due to the debate that was raging at the time.

Vivalebeaver Sun 18-Nov-12 18:56:25

Yes they can. If they have concerns already then they can say that these are the steps you need to take to convince us you're suitable parents to keep this child. I've known conditions be vaccinations, stopping smoking, etc.

If conditions aren't met then social services will recommend the child is removed.

Which is a bit crap really when you think that if a middle class mother wanted to smoke and chose not to vaccinate that no one would remove her child. However it's supposed to demonstrate that they will put the child before themselves. But if you believe vaccinations are harmful it's a bit of a nightmare.

The decision to not vaccinate would not be taken as neglect on its own.

There would be many reasons that a child would be taken into care and parental responsibility taken from the parent.

Only when the LA have a full care order would they act in the child's best interests (which is to vaccinate as its govt policy).

The baby has had none because they haven't got around to it and don't think it is that important. The older two children don't have them up to date in particular the MMR because the parents believe it was the MMR jab that triggered their eldest child's disability, whose all-consuming aggression has led to the other children being removed (but not him hmm).

The parents have been told that they MUST have their children vaccinated to prove their parenting, or else SS will do it.

This is as I understand the issue, but I have to concede I don't know the detail.

CajaDeLaMemoria Sun 18-Nov-12 19:08:46

No. I was that child. parents didn't vaccinate me because they couldn't be bothered, social services and foster parents couldn't because it was their decision.

I'm 22 now and have just got over reoccurring whooping cough. I wish someone had bothered to vaccinate me.

That really doesn't sound like the full story
- they've taken all the kids apart from the one (presumably) hard to place?
- and they've taken solely because of non vaccination.

Something doesn't add up unless its massive incompetence (possible but unlikely)

No, they didn't take them because they weren't vaccinated but because the parents couldn't keep them safe from their older brother.

lisad123 Sun 18-Nov-12 19:11:41

Yes they can and will. They do see it as neglect, wouldn't normally remove a child but as a bigger picture they might.
Unless they have removed under sec 20 which is volunteer order then SS would have to have applied for shared care order and can apply to court to force permission for jabs.

Is the oldest over 16 then?

Actually I don't know Laurie. Does that make a difference?

Whether children have been vaccinated or not is part of an assessment. BUt it's part of a wider assessment. So for example no-one in authority has ever had an issue with lack of vaccination for ds2 or ds3, because I can explain why that decision was made and have sound reasons for it which have generally been respected.

If it was a case of not getting around to it, and there was other evidence of a chaotic life then it could be used as part of a case for getting children removed.

Have you had SS involvement starlight. When they do the disability assessment they generally use the same forms and it's a question on there (although the SW didn't even ask me about it for ds1, she just skipped the question).

Yes, I think so as then they're putting their children at risk of being assaulted by an adult.

If he's an adult, adult care services should be involved.

I know they've been asking for help for years.

Perhaps him being 16 and a threat is massively different in terms of safeguarding from being 15 and a threat hmm

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