Several families to challenge vaccination of 16- and 17-year-olds in court

Several families to challenge vaccination of 16- and 17-year-olds in court
Vaccination of a young person. Credit: Belga

Several families from Wallonia are going to court against the vaccination of 16 and 17-year-olds against the coronavirus, arguing that parental consent should be mandatory as it is for 12- to 15-year-olds.

Since 7 July, people aged between 12 and 15 in Belgium can get vaccinated, if their parents or guardians have given them permission, however, 16- to 17-year-olds can receive a shot without this consent.

Ten families are now taking their case to the court of the first instance in Namur, citing the law of August 2002, on patients' rights, which guarantees patients the right to "informed, prior and free consent", according to reports from L'Echo.

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Their lawyer, Arnaud Jansen, said the families are arguing that this right is being violated with the vaccination of 16- and 17-year-olds, as the young people should be informed by a doctor before being vaccinated and their parents should give their consent.

They are also attacking the need for younger people to get vaccinated, as they argue the risk of serious illness caused by the coronavirus is much lower in children and adolescents, and therefore the vaccination is less beneficial for them.

However, this argument has been debunked by several virologists and infectious disease experts, who have said that vaccinating this age group is vital as the more contagious Delta variant could result in more cases of long-Covid among teenagers and twenty-somethings.

Vaccinating this age group, which represents around 2.16% of the Belgian population, will also contribute to increasing the overall percentage of the Belgian population that is vaccinated and the minimum target set by the authorities to vaccinate 80% of the population, but will have a limited effect on the pressure on hospitals.

As of Sunday, around 254,000 people aged under 17 have received at least a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, whilst more than 30,000 have been fully vaccinated.

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