The UK Human Rights Blog’s website featured a recent article reporting on the Covid-19 vaccination, care home residents and the Court of Protection.

Marina Wheeler QC writes about cases from the Court of Protection where the relatives of three care home residents who lacked medical capacity objected to their receiving the vaccination. The Court applied the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. In each case it ruled that the care home resident’s best interests were served by being vaccinated.

The blog outlined each case. In one, an 80-year-old woman suffered from dementia and schizophrenia. Her doctor has talked to her about the virus and the risks it presents, and the vaccination, but considered her lacking in capacity to understand either. He also thought the vaccination was in her best interests.

Son not in agreement

The woman’s legal representative agreed with the doctor, but her son did not. The Court was asked to rule in the case. Mr Justice Hayden, the Court of Protection’s Vice President, noted that prior to her dementia, the woman had willingly had the flu vaccine as well as a vaccine against swine flu.

She had also expressed trust in the views of healthcare professionals by saying that she wanted “whatever is best for me”. In the view of the court, this suggested that she would accept the Covid-19 vaccine now. Her son’s views were taken into account. He said he wasn’t against the vaccine in principle, but that he doubted its efficacy and whether it had been tested on the cohort to which his mother belonged, and if issues of ethnicity had been considered.

Highest per capita death rates

While the court said it respected his views, they were “a facet of his own temperament and personality”. They did not reflect his mother’s character. The decisive factors were found to be that the woman was living in a country with one of the highest per capita death rates from Covid-19. The woman’s vulnerability was heightened as she also suffers from diabetes, cannot socially distance from others and is in a care home where there are cases of Covid-19.

The Court has to weigh up the risks – a real risk to life versus an “unidentified possibility of an adverse reaction” to the vaccine, and it ruled that the vaccine would reduce the risk to her life considerably.

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