B.C. court rules in favour of dad seeking power to immunize his children

SALMON ARM , B.C. — A judge says the father of two boys has the right to ensure his children receive necessary immunizations and dental treatments, despite objections from the children's mother.

B.C. provincial court Judge Stella Frame says the father should have sole responsibility for medical and dental treatments for his two young sons.

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The boy's parents, who are only identified by initials, ended their relationship around 2017. The father went to court after the mother refused consent for certain vaccinations and opposed dental x-rays, resulting in extensive dental work for the older boy.

During court proceedings, the mother offered a report from Dr. Toni Lynn Bark, an American who describes herself as an expert in the study of adverse vaccine reactions. In her judgment, Frame says Bark admits the field is unrecognized by medical professionals.

Frame instead accepts most of the material provided by the father, including two B.C. Supreme Court rulings. She says the father must keep the mother informed but is now responsible for all the boys' medical and dental treatments.

Frame's decision, delivered at the end of December, highlights the ongoing battle between those who support childhood vaccinations against infectious diseases, such as measles, mumps and whooping cough, and those who question vaccine safety.

In rejecting the mother's submission of Bark's report and the doctor's qualification as an expert in what is called vaccine adversomics, Frame sides with public health officials, writing "the current best evidence is that vaccination is preferable to non-vaccination."

"It is difficult to know whether this is junk science or a recognized emerging field," Frame wrote of Bark's report on adversomics, adding that the document sounds more "like a conspiracy theory" as it is presented.

Frame takes special aim at the report's claim that targeted infectious diseases pose a low risk to the population, while vaccine trials produce a high number of adverse effects.

"One of the diseases that (Bark) claimed is very low risk to contract is measles. That is simply not the case," Frame wrote.

Her judgment quotes from a 2012 B.C. Supreme Court decision examining the question of immunization. The ruling relied on expert Dr. David Scheifele, a leading B.C. pediatrician specializing in childhood diseases.

"If overall vaccination rates slip, infections previously held at bay can return to cause outbreaks among susceptible children and adults," Scheifele testified, adding that measles or chicken pox infections are often worse in unvaccinated teens or adults.

In giving the father sole control of his boys' medical and dental needs, Frame says both are healthy and active. They are also not among a small group of patients who should not be vaccinated due to weakened immune systems, illness or other issues, she added.

Vaccination of the majority is required in order to protect those who cannot be vaccinated, wrote Frame.

"Any adverse reaction the person may have from the vaccine is largely outweighed by the risk of contracting the targeted disease."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2020.

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