Court orders 80-year-old Care home resident to receive COVID vaccine despite son’s objections

Since the beginning after 90-year-old grandmother, Margaret Keenan was the first to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 jab in the UK, there have been numerous conditions requiring attention within the mass vaccination programme. This is seen most recently in the first reported Court of Protection judgment made on capacity in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Last month saw the decision on a 80-year-old care home resident, an individual included within phase 1 of the COVID vaccinations known only as Mrs E in court papers, and whether she should receive the coronavirus vaccine despite her sons concerns of the integrity in the vaccine.

Mrs E has dementia and was diagnosed with schizophrenia some 20 years ago and has been living within a London based care home since March 2020 – a home where a number of confirmed COVID cases were reported following the son’s concerns. Also given her lack of capacity to understand the nature and severity if she was to catch the virus. Such factors including numerous other mentioned within the decision compounds her vulnerability to become infected with Covid-19.

The judge further noted, as required by section 4(6) of the MCA in determining the best interest, to note Mrs E’s past vaccinations, aligning with the beliefs and values sought then to inform the decision of her present need to vaccinate. Prior to her dementia diagnosis, it was found that Mrs E willingly received the influenza vaccine and a vaccination during the 2009 Swine flu pandemic.

The son, noted as Mr W in court papers, further queried whether Mrs E’s wishes and feelings had been canvassed. The son does not have power of attorney for health and welfare, yet his objection the day before the scheduled vaccination, lead to the plan being halted.

Mrs E’s representatives urgently sought a declaration, pursuant to section 15 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (‘MCA 2005’) to the effect that it would be lawful and in Mrs E’s best interests to receive the vaccine when next availably possible.

On 8 January 2021, Hammersmith and Fulham council informed the woman’s accredited legal representative (ALR) that she was to be offered the Covid-19 vaccination on 11 January 2021.

In the first reported Court of Protection judgment on capacity and best interests in relation to the Covid-19 vaccine, The Vice president of the Court of Protection and ruling judge, the Honourable Mr Justice Hayden said the woman, Mrs E, who lacks capacity to decide whether she should receive the vaccination, should receive the jab “as soon as practically possible”.

To read the full court judgement, please follow the link here.

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