Judge orders 11yo girl to be vaccinated despite father’s objections
A New York judge has ruled that an 11-year-old girl may be vaccinated against Covid-19 despite vocal protests from her dad, siding with the child’s mother amid a lengthy divorce case while claiming the virus poses a “dire” threat.
Monroe County Supreme Court Justice Richard Dollinger ruled against the father, Donald Figer, in a decision last week, saying his daughter Jeannie may be immunized against his wishes at the direction of her mother, who he divorced in 2012. Though the court described Figer as “an accomplished scientist and professor” at a local college, it rejected his concerns about the vaccines outright, insisting that it was not reasonable to expect certainty about their safety or effectiveness.
“Waiting – to be ‘sure,’ as the father asks – is simply untenable, when the specter of a killing or incapacitating disease is swirling in the environment surrounding this young girl,” the judge said in his ruling, adding that the “scientific certainty that the father seeks about complications from the vaccine” was not a legitimate standard.
This Court, weighing the child's best interests, cannot wait for the vaccine's side effects or efficacy to be scientifically established beyond a reasonable doubt... The imminent risk of contracting the disease is too high and the consequences of acquiring it potentially too dire.
“The mother is ordered to schedule an immediate appointment for the child to be administered an age appropriate vaccine from the pediatrician or her office staff as soon as possible,” the ruling continued.
In an affidavit to the court, Figer stated that the vaccines now approved by the FDA have “not been subject to long term trials for side-effects,” also claiming that Covid-19 is “benign” to children around his daughter’s age and that the immunizations themselves may pose a greater risk.
Dollinger rejected the father’s argument on all counts, saying that he is “perplexed” that a scientist at “one of the area's premier institutions” would oppose a vaccine “authorized by the CDC and universally encouraged by state and local physicians.” Nonetheless, the court declined to impose a fine on Figer, recognizing that he was attempting to “protect his child’s interests,” even if motivated by an “overabundance of caution.”
The judge went on to say that scientists may “never catch up to this ever evolving and elusive virus” and its variants, despite more than a year of messaging from public health agencies suggesting the vaccines would arrest the pandemic and ultimately bring it to an end. Following months of panic over the ‘Delta’ mutation, another strain dubbed ‘Omicron’ is now triggering fear across much of the world, prompting a spate of travel restrictions on several continents. Though researchers are still studying the new strain, early findings suggest Omicron could be more contagious, but less deadly, than previous variants, possibly cutting against some of the more alarmist predictions and knee-jerk containment measures brought in response.