You will find information about the vaccination programme in Gloucestershire on this page.
When should capacity be assessed?
There is no need to carry out a formal assessment of capacity if there is no reason to doubt that the person lacks capacity to consent. If there is reason to believe, then an assessment should be carried out.
During that assessment, steps should be taken to support the person make the decision. If those steps do not succeed, then a formal record of that fact should be made, and steps be taken to work out whether the vaccine will be administered on the basis of the consent of an attorney or deputy with the relevant power, or on the basis of an agreement that it is in their best interests.
Guidance about carrying out and recording capacity assessments can be found on the 39 Essex Chambers website.
Who is the decision-maker if the person does not have capacity to consent?
If there is no attorney or deputy whose powers cover the situation, the healthcare professional administering the vaccine will be the person who has to make the final decision whether or not to administer it. It is not a social work decision.
It is very likely that their decision as to whether or not to administer will be based upon information collected by others, including from family members and others interested in the person’s welfare, in particular as to whether or not the person would want the vaccine.
It is for this reason that it is so important that steps are taken well in advance of the day when the vaccination is to be delivered, to gather that information: see also here (in the care home context) Appendix D of the Standard operating procedure: COVID-19 local vaccination services deployment in community settings.
Care Homes and family members should be in a position to supply the medical professional, who will be the decision maker, with supporting information. For example:
- Why would it be in a persons best interests to have the vaccine?
- What are the risks to that person if they don’t have it and the risk to other residents and staff?
The medical professional can consider the benefits and risks of the vaccine itself and consider information supplied in making the best interest decision.
The COVID-19 vaccination does not amount to serious medical treatment. It is analogous to the flu jab and the considerations for best interest will be similar.
39 Essex Chambers has produced guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations and MCA.
Mental Capacity Governance Manager