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Name: In re S.P. et al.
Case #: B302636
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 08/06/2020
Summary

The juvenile court has the authority to order vaccinations for dependent children under its jurisdiction. The minors were made dependents of the court due to their parents’ substance abuse and mental illness. The minors were removed, and reunification services were ordered. Parents did not want the minors vaccinated, and had received a medical exemption which did not state the medical reason. The minors’ physician recommended vaccinations for both children. At a hearing to determine whether the children should be vaccinated, the doctor who issued the exemption could not state a medical reason for the exemption, and had only seen the minors briefly. In 2018, the doctor had issued 350 medical exemptions at the cost of $290 for an exemption examination. The juvenile court declared that the exemptions were void, and ordered the children be vaccinated. On appeal, father argued that the juvenile court had no authority to revoke the vaccination exemptions. The Department argued that the issue was moot, as the children had already received their immunizations. The appellate court addressed the issue, finding that exemptions from vaccinations is a recurrent issue that would continue to affect the rights of parties in dependency proceedings. It found that the juvenile court had the authority to revoke the exemptions as part of its inherent authority to make all reasonable orders relating to medical treatment. The most relevant issue was whether the children at the time needed vaccinations. The minors’ physician at the time recommended the vaccinations, as they were medically necessary. There is no statutory bar to preclude the juvenile court from ordering medically necessary vaccinations. Further, the physician who issued the exemption was not a credible witness. He did not conduct a complete exam of the children and testified they had no existing medical conditions. Further, the 350 exemptions he issued for fees put his credibility in question.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B302636.PDF