'I felt trapped': Shuswap father on why he took his children's mother to court over vaccinations | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'I felt trapped': Shuswap father on why he took his children's mother to court over vaccinations

Devin Blais recently won a court battle allowing him to vaccinate his kids.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Devin Blais
January 18, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Devin Blais never thought he'd have to take his former partner and the mother of his two children to court in order to have them vaccinated.

What grew from the couple originally not seeing "eye to eye" on vaccinations ended years later in a Salmon Arm courtroom. On Dec. 31, 2019, Judge Stella Frame ruled in Blais' favour - allowing the children to be vaccinated.

"I want all the information to be out there so it helps the next person who has to go through something like this," Blais told iNFOnews.ca.

Blais' court battle highlights the difficulties parents can have if they don't agree on vaccinating their children.

For Blais, the situation started subtly, with the couple having conflicting views on vaccinations.

"There was no bickering or fighting we just didn't see eye to eye on it. I said OK, we'll wait until we have our first one."

Their first child arrived and his former partner asked whether they could delay vaccinations until after she'd finished breastfeeding. Blais said he was willing to compromise, thinking the children would have a couple of vaccinations and then go from there.

"It would get more tense every time we'd talk about it," Blais said.

He said his former partner was not originally radically anti-vaccination, but her beliefs changed over time, backed up by her friends and what she read on the internet.

"She had a doubt and was skeptical, but the belief grew and became much stronger... until she didn't trust the medical profession."

Blais' former partner asked for him to pay for tests to see if the boys would react to the vaccinations. The tests cost between $6,000 and $8,000 and Blais thought them to be "junk science." He refused to pay.

By the time the couple separated about two-and-a-half years ago, their two boys were 18 months and three-and-a-half years old, and neither had been vaccinated.

A turning point came when Blais' sister-in-law became pregnant and his brother told him his kids couldn't come over until the new baby was vaccinated.

"I understood, but it hurt," he said.

Sharing custody, Blais took his two boys to be vaccinated. It was then he discovered his former partner had registered the boys with Interior Health as not to be vaccinated. Staff at the clinic said he had two choices: get the mother to agree to vaccinations or get a court order.

Blais said he felt trapped with nowhere to turn.

"I've never talked to anybody about it," he said. "I thought she should have to fight to not have to vaccinate."

He decided to pursue the matter through the courts. Financially he says he wasn't "ready for it" but did it for his boys. He also thought the case would probably be settled early.

Ultimately, Judge Stella Frame granted Blais responsibility for the medical and dental treatment of his children and ordered the boys be vaccinated.

Blais said he did it for his kids but hopes his case will shine a light on the situation.

"I thought if one person does it maybe it will help other people eventually so they don't have to fight like I did," he said. "Now there's case law, now there's a precedent set through this."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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