The North Netherlands District Court recently had to rule on a case in which a twelve-year-old child wanted to be vaccinated against corona and the parents disagreed about vaccination.
Children between the ages of 12 and 16 should decide together with their parents whether they want to be vaccinated.
In this case, a 12-year-old boy wanted to be vaccinated because his grandmother was suffering from lung cancer and he wanted to spend time with her in the last phase of her life. The boy feared that because he had not been vaccinated, he would infect his grandmother and this would be immediately life-threatening for her.
The boy's parents were divorced and the relationship was strained. They disagreed about the need for vaccination.
The mother gave permission but the father did not. The father also opposed the testing for corona. According to the father, the risk of his son contracting corona with permanent consequences did not outweigh the unclear risks of a vaccine that was still in the testing phase.
The boy used the informal legal route to obtain substitute consent for corona vaccination. The court found father's concerns about the long-term risks unfounded. The child had a compelling interest in being vaccinated and was granted permission by the court. This was motivated as follows:
"The dispute between the parents of the minor concerns the care of his physical health. This is the responsibility of the parents who have joint custody of him. In the given context, the dispute about the vaccination can be seen as a dispute about the exercise of parental authority within the meaning of Article 1:253a of the Dutch Civil Code. This article regulates that when parents disagree and also do not agree during a verbal hearing in court, the judge decides what he thinks is desirable in the interest of a child.
The judge put first and foremost that children can indeed get corona and that although on average they do not get sick as badly and as often as adults, children can also become seriously ill and can also experience the long-term consequences of that illness (lung covid). Furthermore, the risk of infecting others is significantly lower among vaccinated than unvaccinated people.
Understandably, the father is concerned about the risks of vaccination and there is indeed a small risk of serious side effects, such as the inflammation of the pericardium or the myocardium referred to by the father that, according to now acquired knowledge, occurs in approximately 1 in 15,000 vaccinated boys between the ages of 12 and 18. A serious side effect that fortunately can be easily recognised and that can also lead to a full recovery in almost all cases. In any case, these are all risks that the Health Council took into consideration in its consideration of the advice to offer children between the ages of 12 and 18 the opportunity to opt for vaccination.
The long-term risks experienced by the father lack any factual basis. There are currently no conceivable long-term risks, based on current scientific knowledge, that correspond to the concerns experienced by the father.
In view of the positive advice given by the Health Council and the interests involved in vaccination, in particular the interests of the minor as expressed above, it follows that the court should grant substitute consent that allows the minor to be vaccinated."
The ruling was declared provisionally enforceable by the judge, which meant that the boy could be vaccinated immediately even if the father appealed.
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