Judge rules against dad trying to stop child's HPV vaccination

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled against a father who was looking to stop his ex-wife from having their children vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV).

According to a B.C. Supreme Court judgment issued Monday, Victoria Draper will have the sole authority to decide whether her daughter will be vaccinated. She wanted to have her daughter to receive the vaccine before her 12th birthday, as recommended by B.C. health authorities.

The girl's father, Matthew Smith, sought an order to prohibit Draper from having their children vaccinated against HPV, saying in text messages to Draper that it is "unknown" whether the "protection is going to even work" and that the vaccine "causes more harm than good."

In her judgment, Justice Catherine Murray said she accepts guidance from Canadian health authorities "who are entrusted with protecting public health that it is in the best interests of the children to get the HPV vaccination."

Daughter shown 'very scary' video, mother says

According to the judgment posted online, Draper and Smith divorced in late 2022 and have two children together: an eight-year-old son and a daughter who will turn 12 next month.

They were notified last fall that children in their daughter's grade were set to receive the HPV vaccine. Smith refused to sign the consent form and told the school that her daughter would not be vaccinated.

He wrote to Draper that even if the chance of harm was less than one per cent, "that's too much risk."

"There's a lot of pressure on parents to take these vaccines — just like COVID, it's all about money and commissions. It isn't about health," Smith wrote.

The Bishops of Saskatchewan sent out a letter to the Catholic School Board and parents about the publicly-funded school-based  offering of the HPV vaccine.
The father in the case told his children that he would wait to see the outcome of U.S. lawsuits on vaccines before deciding if his children should get them. (CBC)

The judgment says Smith sent Draper TikTok videos and articles to support his argument.

In his application, Smith cited lawsuits in the U.S. around the vaccine, saying it was best to "review the matter" once they have been adjudicated.

He also cited information from a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Smith said he discussed it with his children and showed them a 20-minute video on the topic, and his daughter told him she didn't want to get the vaccine.

Draper said her daughter told her the videos her father showed her were "very scary."

The mother said she later watched the videos and described them as inappropriate for children, making reference to death and suicide.

She said her daughter told her that Smith said "she would die if she got the vaccine."

Draper went on to say that her daughter told her that she wanted to get the vaccine and that their family doctor said there was no medical reason for her not to.

Justice Catherine Murray dismissed Smith's application, noting that his "wait and see" approach to the U.S. lawsuits was not in the children's best interests, adding that "lawsuits are not medical information."

She also said she put no weight on the "information" from the UBC researcher.

In making her decision, Draper relied on publications that "make clear that health authorities/ experts in Canada favour the HPV vaccine," according to the judgment.

Murray said she found Draper's evidence more compelling.

"I accept the advice of the health authorities in Canada who are entrusted with protecting public health that it is in the best interests of the children to get the HPV vaccination. I am further satisfied that it is in the best interests of the children to get the vaccination at the age when it is most effective, as determined by Ms. Draper."

Murray ordered that Draper "has sole decision-making authority regarding any and all decisions relating to the HPV vaccination and/or treatment."

Smith is not allowed to discuss or allow any third party to discuss the HPV vaccine or HPV generally with the children. This includes not showing them anything on social media regarding HPV or the HPV vaccine.

"I am concerned about Mr. Smith showing the children disturbing videos and telling them that the vaccine will kill them in an effort to indoctrinate them into his way of thinking," Murray wrote.