Texas Judge Rules Boy Can Stay With Unvaccinated Foster Parents Who Have Medical Condition

A Texas judge ruled that a boy can stay with his unvaccinated foster parents who have a medical condition.

Judge Susan Reed of Bexar County had originally ruled that the boy, 5, should be removed from the home of Richard and Barbara Bernhardt. However, Reed later reversed her decision after she learned the couple have celiac disease, a medical condition they said prevents them from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

People with celiac disease can damage their small intestine if they consume gluten. According to the Society of the Study of Celiac Disease, none of the three coronavirus vaccines used in the U.S. contain gluten.

The boy's attorney, William Keiler, said he is mulling on whether to file an appeal to the court ruling because he believes moving the boy would ensure his health and safety.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Vaccine Texas
A Texas judge ruled that a boy can stay with his unvaccinated foster parents after learning they had a medical condition. Above, Safeway pharmacist Ashley McGee fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccination at a vaccination booster shot clinic on October 01, 2021 in San Rafael, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Gaby Moreno, a conservatorship specialist for Texas Child Protective Services who handles the boy's case, said she hasn't received any training from her agency about COVID-19 protocols or policies for Texas foster parents.

"There's no regulations or new policy that I've heard of that we need to follow when it comes to foster homes or the children aside from the regular precautions that we're all taking ... (such as) masks and sanitizers," Moreno testified.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises caution to people who are allergic to an ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine or who had a negative reaction after receiving an initial dose.

Richard Bernhardt, 53, said he was nervous about the COVID-19 vaccines because his own father had an adverse reaction to the shot. "I'm a little more concerned about some of the consequences and some of the reactions that he had," he testified.

Richard Bernhardt told the court that he does plan to get his first dose of the vaccine, but that his wife does not plan to do so.

Moreno also testified that moving the boy would "destroy" him.

The child "was in a previous placement when we removed him in January," Moreno said. "All he did from January to July was have major tantrums and aggression and begging the foster parents he was with to take him back home to the foster family where he is placed now."

Moreno noted it would be difficult to find the boy another home because so many foster children are waiting for places to live.

Richard Bernhardt expressed elation at the ruling. If the boy isn't returned to his biological parents, the Bernhardts plan to adopt him.