What do I do if my co-parent and I do not agree on vaccinating our kids?

The FDA has approved, for emergency use, the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12-15, which means parents will be making decisions about vaccinating their children in this age group.

Families began these conversations around their 16-year-old plus children, and now, the pool of those eligible has gotten considerably larger.

Whether or not to vaccinate – for the parents, first, and now children — is one of the many unique issues divorced and divorcing co-parents have struggled with over this pandemic period.

There are many aspects of your children’s life that will be affected by this choice, including, but not limited to: whether schools or sports teams will require the vaccine, if the child’s socialization will be affected because some parents might require the vaccine to agree to play with the child, and of course, issues surrounding traveling of any kind.

Coming to an agreement on whether to vaccinate is going to be important for both you and your children.

Some co-parents agree immediately on what to do, which makes the issue far easier to navigate.

But what do you do if you and your ex-spouse disagree?

First, build your case.

My advice is always to talk to the experts. In this case, speak with your pediatrician.

Certainly, your pediatrician’s opinion about this is important. Each case is unique, and there are possibly health-related exemptions to be considered in some children.

If the pediatrician is supportive of vaccinating your child, it will likely be an uphill battle for the parent opposing the vaccination.  

Speak with your attorney. They might have some helpful ideas about what you need to be thinking about as they have been involved with many conversations on this topic.

Also, get a sense if local school-related sports or social groups are leaning toward recognizing vaccines to clear students’ participation.

All this information will help you build your case.

If you cannot get on the same page as your co-parent and think you will need a judge to tell you what to do, it is important to remember that the court will not make the decision as to whether the children should be vaccinated.

The court can determine which parent is best equipped to make that decision.

This often is determined by which parent is more thoughtful about the issue, and who can put the child’s best interest ahead of their own.  

But ideally, you can work together to come to an agreement.

As I always say, it is very important to do everything you can to align with your co-parent on this issue and others.

It bears repeating that study after study shows parental conflict negatively affects your children. Also, it is important not to involve your children in these discussions.

And it might be difficult, but it is imperative to foster the relationship between your children and their other parent as your children are a product of both parents and need both of you.


Here is a recent podcast I did on the topic with Jennifer Hurvitz on her popular podcast, Doing Relationships Right. It was taped earlier on in the development of the vaccine, but does have good, actionable information. Listen here: http://ow.ly/3v3o50EhFqx


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