vaccination

In Italy and Switzerland, in two similar cases, the courts have ruled in favor of vaccination of minors.

With judgment no. 26700 of 18 September 2023, the Court of Cassation has reaffirmed that Tribunals can authorise children’s vaccination if that is in their best interest when parents opinions diverge.

In this case, a mother had been authorised to vaccinate her two kids against COVID-19 by the Tribunal of Torino since parents had divergent opinions. Indeed, the children’ father of the children had opposed the authorisation decree.

However, his complaint was rejected, as it lacked scientific basis. The Court of Appeal of Torino held that neither the utility of the vaccine in preventing contagions nor its general safety could be questioned. Moreover, the Court held that, in case of parents’ disagreement, the general rule requires them to follow the guidelines of national competent authorities. According to the Italian Guidelines child vaccination against COVID-19 is encouraged unless the child is suffering from peculiar health issues that make the inoculation risky for them. As it was not the case here, the Court considered that vaccination was in the children’s best interest.

The father appealed this decision before the Court of Cassation but his challenges were again dismissed. Among other things, the Italian Supreme Court reaffirmed that it is possible to bring child vaccination claims before a judge in case of parents’ disagreement. Indeed, the Court can evaluate if the parent’s dissent is in line with their child’s best interest or not (point 2.2 of the decision).

A similar judgment has recently been issued in Switzerland. The Federal Tribunal has upheld a father’s claim to vaccinate his two children (aged 8 and 10) against measles despite their mother’s disagreement. This decision was unexpected, as Swiss courts had refused in the past to authorise children’s vaccination in case of parents’ disagreement. In this case, however, the Tribunal held that the Swiss Public Health Authority guidelines recommending vaccination for children had to be followed.

Reference: Court of Cassation, section I, judgment of 18 September 2023 no. 26700.

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