Court: Father can't forbid 12-year-old from getting Covid-19 vaccination
The Noord-Nederland court on Thursday gave a 12-year-old from Groningen permission to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The boy petitioned the court over the issue because his father refuses to let him be vaccinated against the disease, and the child wants to visit his seriously-ill grandmother.
The boy told the court that he understands the risks of the coronavirus and wants to limit the chance of infection as much as possible. He also explained that his grandmother has metastatic lung cancer. He desperately wishes to see her, and he understands that passing the coronavirus infection on to her would most likely lead to her death.
The child's parents are divorced and have a difficult relationship. His mother is fine with him getting vaccinated, but his father is staunchly opposed to it. He is also reportedly against coronavirus testing. The father said he is not convinced of the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines, because according to him they are still in a testing phase. He also said he worries the vaccines will give his son serious heart disease in the short term and will lead to infertility in later years.
Because of these positions, the boy said he does not feel comfortable discussing the issue with his father. The court was already involved with the family as the two parents disagree on other aspects of the child's upbringing, and the child asked the judge to take also consider allowing him to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The court ruled in the boy's favor, saying that the child's interest outweighs the father's concerns. The boy can be vaccinated immediately, even if the father appeals against the ruling. Additionally, though anyone under 16 must make medical decisions with their parents, the child's desires take priority when a disagreement cannot be resolved.
The court ruled that the father's fear of rare side effects is understandable, but also pointed out that such side effects are treatable and often lead to recovery. Fears about long-term health risks are not grounded in science and "have no factual basis", the court ruled. The decision makes it possible for the boy to get vaccinated immediately, even if the father attempts to appeal the decision.
In the European Union and the Netherlands, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech is approved for use in children from aged 12. Pfizer said it believes its vaccine is also safe for 5 to 11-year-olds and they will submit it to the European Medicines Agency for approval shortly.