Youth Cannot Be Mandated to Get COVID-19 Vaccine, Ontario Court Rules

Youth Cannot Be Mandated to Get COVID-19 Vaccine, Ontario Court Rules
People walk past a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Mississauga, Ont., on April 13, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)
Andrew Chen

A 12-year-old girl who does not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine cannot be mandated to do so, an Ontario judge has ruled in a family court dispute.

“The science relating to COVID-19 is developing,” wrote Justice Christopher Corkery of the Ontario Superior Court. “The ‘facts’ are changing.”

The dispute arose after the girl’s unidentified father filed a motion with the court, seeking to compel his ex-wife to have the girl vaccinated before the start of the school year, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

“It’s keeping everyone in our community safe,” the father told the Court. “It’s keeping you safe.”

The girl, described as an A-student, wrote in an email that was submitted to the court, saying that “I do not want my COVID-19 vaccine.”

She noted that data have suggested “people who have received both shots and the booster are still getting COVID” and that “she heard from friends that their doctors are advising that children not get vaccinated.”

“This is my final decision,” the girl wrote. “I do not want the vaccine. I hope my wishes will be respected.”

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccines were first made eligible for youth aged 12 and above in May 2021. The provincial government said at the time that expanding the eligibility to children in this age group came “at the request of some public health units to remove barriers for families requesting vaccines.”

Statistically, youth and children have rarely become seriously ill from COVID-19, and most who have ended up with severe symptoms have had other underlying health conditions.

The Ontario court was told that the girl’s mother is “not against the COVID-19 vaccine but is not prepared to force her daughter to be vaccinated against her will.”

Justice Corkery ruled he could not mandate vaccination, saying that “I am satisfied she is able to reasonably form her own opinions.”

“What are the health implications if children receive the current vaccine but skip some or all of the boosters?” he said. “What future COVID variant will boosters guard against?”

“These are all valid questions requiring answers which are currently unavailable,” he added. “It is improper for the Court to pre-determine future medical treatments at unknown times, in unknown circumstances.”

The Justice also noted that, with informed consent, many factors should be considered in weighing the risks and benefits of receiving a vaccine.

“Does safe mean there are no side effects?” Corkery wrote. “Is the vaccine effective in protecting her from contracting COVID-19, from spreading it, from dying from it, from severity of symptoms?”

“Requiring her to be vaccinated against her will would not respect her physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being but would in fact put her at risk of serious emotional and psychological harm.”