Deciding body (English)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Outcome of the decision
VHVM presented a “Protection” action to prevent the mother of his daughters (10 and 8 years old) and the local school they attended, from forcing them to be inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine. In his opinion, it was an experimental vaccine whose effectiveness was not proven and could therefore cause serious disorders in their bodies, putting their lives and health at risk. He also alleged that the mandatory vaccination plan contradicted his religious beliefs.
According to the Court, the individual rights invoked by the father must be weighed against the protection rights exercised by the mother, and concluded that the mother’s decision better protects the girls’ well-being as well as the general interest.
Facts of the case
- The Local School “Rio Claro” with the coordination of the Family Health Center of the region (Cefam), organized a vaccination campaign for children between 6 to 11 years old.
- The school lended its facilities to the campaign and disseminated information regarding the date and requirements for the inoculation process. It stated that parents’ previous consent was mandatory for the children to be vaccinated.
- The vaccination day took place on October 14, 2021. Minutes before the inoculation process started, Mr. VHVM entered the school to prevent his daughters from being vaccinated. He explained that he was separated from the mother (who signed the consent form) and that he was against vaccination, considering the negative effects it could have for his children. The school ordered that the two girls not be vaccinated until the situation between the parents was resolved.
- On November 4, 2021, Mr. VHVM returned to the school stating that he would issue a Protection action against them for demanding that the kids be vaccinated in order to attend classes. The school gave him the notification information and explained that it was not mandatory to be vaccinated for his children to attend classes in person.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court rejected the claim as it considered that the mother’s decision to inoculate her two children (10 and 8 years old) with the Covid-19 vaccine, should prevail against the father’s will. In its opinion the mother’s decision protected not only the children’s wellbeing, but also public health in general.
Reasoning of the deciding body
The Court rejected the arguments presented by the claimant and confirmed the decision by the Appeals Court of Concepcion. First, it stated that no illegal action was observed in the case. To the contrary, the mother and the local school's decision to respectively approve the vaccination and provide spaces for the inoculation process were based on the Constitution and international treaties which established the obligation to grant children the highest protection standard of health.
Second, it underscored how Decrees 4, 2020, 10 of 2020 and 1 of 2021 established a sanitary alert and gave public authorities extraordinary faculties to reduce the effects of the crisis generated by the Covid -19 pandemic. The Court stated that the mother’s decision to inoculate her children with the Covid -19 vaccine, was not only congruent with that public policy, but also rational as the scientific proof delivered to Chile demonstrated the benefits of the inoculation process to the children and public health in general. Therefore, it discarded the claimant’s argument of a possible violation of the right to health.
Finally, the Court weighed the mother and the father’s rights. On the one hand, the right to protect the health and life of the children, as well as the right to liberty, considering possible restrictions for not complying with the vaccination scheme were considered. On the other hand, the right to self-determination and the freedom of conscience were evaluated. It concluded that in this case the mother’s rights should prevail, as their exercise protected the children’s wellbeing and contributed to improving public health.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Freedom of religion
- Right to health (inc. right to vaccination, right to access to reproductive health)
- Freedom of conscience
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Right to life and personal integrity, Art. 19.1, Constitution
- Right to equality before the law, Art. 19.2, Constitution
- Freedom of conscience, Art. 19.6, Constitution
- Right to health, Art. 24, Convention on the Rights of the Child
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
General principle applied
Balancing techniques and principles (proportionality, reasonableness, others)
- The Court applied the principle of Reasonableness, as it used the criterion of rationality to justify the mother’s decision to inoculate her children. It considered that it was logical to make decisions affecting the children’s health based on the scientific information provided by public authorities and not other kinds of data.
- The Court applied the principle of Proportionality in its decision that the mother’s wish to inoculate the children should prevail, even against the father’s will. The Court stated that the decision
i) had a legitimate objective, to protect the children’s health and contribute to reducing the spread of Covid-19;
ii) was adequate to obtain that end, because it was proven that the vaccine reduced the risks of suffering serious health effects as well as the contagion rates; and
iii) was proportional, as the restriction of the father’s freedom of conscience was less relevant than the risks the children might experience without the vaccine. Not to mention that the father’s freedom is limited by the public order that is granted by the increase of the vaccination rate in the framework of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Defendants: public (Local School "Rio Claro") and private (mother of his daughters).