Coronavirus vaccine consent and mental capacity
The Coronavirus vaccine is being rolled out quickly and among the first groups of people to receive it are the elderly living in care homes with Dementia. These people may be unable to make the decision for themselves to have the vaccine and give the consent required.
So what happens then?
If the person does not have mental capacity to make the decision themselves then a ‘best interests’ decision about vaccination will need to be made on their behalf. If the person with dementia has a registered Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, then ultimately it is the attorney’s decision, however they can still discuss any concerns with a health professional. The attorney should also consider any indirect benefits to vaccination such as the relaxation on visiting rules at the care home. The care home may want all residents to be vaccinated but it must not exert undue influence or seek to over-ride a ‘best interests’ decision.
If there is no Health & Welfare LPA in place, then the ‘best interests’ decision will be made by health professionals, in consultation with those closest to the person and those who know them best, which in some cases will the care home staff. The decision should take into account the person’s wishes and feelings, such as whether they have they vaccinations before or whether they have strong views on vaccines. It must also balance the risks and benefits of them having or not having the vaccine. It is thought that the legal opinion in most cases will be that it is in the person’s best interests to have the vaccine, but an individual approach is still needed.
If you or your family need any guidance on Lasting Powers of Attorney then please get in touch with our team.