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New York judge orders girl, 11, to get COVID vaccine, siding against child's scientist father in legal dispute with her mother

JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

An 11-year-old girl has been ordered to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by a judge in upstate New York. The ruling sides with the child's mother and against the girl's father — who is a scientist and a professor, according to the New York Post.

The daughter is in the middle of a messy battle between the divorced couple. The mother — Jeannie Figer — wants to get her 11-year-old daughter vaccinated against COVID-19. She notes that the estranged pair's other two daughters — ages 17 and 19 — have already been vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the father — Donald Figer — was hesitant about allowing his youngest daughter to be vaccinated.

The father — who is reportedly vaccinated against COVID-19 — said he wants to wait for his young daughter to be vaccinated until more information becomes available on the long-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine on children.

He is reportedly a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Rochester Institute of Technology lists Figer as the director of the Center for Detectors, and a professor in the College of Science with appointments in the Astrophysical Science and the Technology Ph.D. program and the Microsystems Engineering Ph.D. program. "He is a leader in developing and deploying new photon detection technologies," the school states.

Monroe County Supreme Court Justice Richard Dollinger said he was "somewhat perplexed that an accomplished scientist and professor would oppose a child vaccine authorized by the CDC and universally encouraged by state and local physicians and other health officials."

The judge said it "could be years before any researchers have exacting accounts of either the short or long term consequences of the administration of this vaccine on 11-year-old girls."

"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," Judge Dollinger said. "The wait, requested by the father, could extend beyond the term of the virus, as scientists may never catch up to this ever evolving and elusive virus and variants."

"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 or even to the father's satisfaction," the judged ruled. "The imminent risk of contracting the disease is too high and the consequences of acquiring it potentially too dire."

The judge noted that Monroe County recently declared a state of emergency because of rising hospitalization rates related to COVID-19.

The judge sided with the mother, who is reportedly an attorney. He ordered the mother to schedule an "immediate appointment" for the child to be administered a COVID-19 vaccination "as soon as possible."

On Oct. 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 through 11 years old.

This isn't the first time that COVID-19 vaccines have been front-and-center in legal disputes between divorces.

In August, a Chicago mother was temporarily stripped of her parental rights over her 11-year-old son by a judge because she was unvaccinated. The judge asked the woman what her vaccination status was during a child support hearing with her ex-husband. A judge rescinded the ruling weeks later.

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