A judge in the Netherlands has granted permission for a 12-year-old boy to get the COVID-19 vaccine so he can visit his ailing grandmother after a dispute between his parents initially prevented him from getting the shot.
The judge from the Northern Netherlands Court in the city of Groningen wrote in a ruling released Thursday that the secondary school student, whose name has not been released publicly, had valid concerns about potentially infecting his grandmother, who has lung cancer, according to The Associated Press.
In the Netherlands, where four COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use, children between the ages of 12 and 16 must get parental approval before getting vaccinated.
The boy brought the matter to court after his parents, who are separated, disagreed over granting permission.
While his mother approved of the boy’s desire to get vaccinated, the AP reported that his father cited concerns about potential side effects from the vaccine.
The judge ruled this week that while the father’s concerns were “understandable,” health experts have emphasized that short-term side effects, such as fever and fatigue, are temporary and treatable, and that arguments on long-term reactions “lack any factual foundation.”
The Dutch government says on its website that for residents ages 16 and 17, “it’s your own decision whether to get vaccinated.”
The government advises that those younger than 16 make the decision with the guidance of their parents or guardians, but says that “if you and your parents just can’t agree, you have the final say about whether you get vaccinated.”
Bennie Werink, the lawyer for the boy’s mother, told Dutch broadcaster RTV Noord that this was the first instance he had seen in which a dispute over getting the COVID-19 vaccine had been brought to court, according to the AP.
As of Thursday, roughly 64 percent of Holland's total population had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Reuters.
Since the pandemic first hit the Western European country, it has recorded nearly 2 million infections and more than 18,000 coronavirus-related fatalities.