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Can I decide whether the donor of an LPA should have a COVID-19 vaccine?

Recently I received an email from a contact sending me details of why ‘YOU SHOULD NOT’ take up the offer of the COVID-19 vaccine. It was from an anti-vaxxer who was claiming that the boundless negative literature on the internet about the vaccine had been taken down because our Government and drugs companies don’t want us to know the ‘truth’. It made me think of all those scientists desperately working all hours of the day and night to bring us a ray of hope in an otherwise barren landscape. Was it really all just a conspiracy theory – were the hospital wards really empty – was Fergus Walsh from the BBC part of the ruse???

The news tells us of the slow uptake of the vaccine in certain communities who believe that the vaccine will cause them harm. Social media platforms provide lists of the dangers attached to taking the drug.

Along with many, I don’t know the likely long-term effects of the vaccine. We can only base our decision on whether or not we take the vaccine on the best advice that we search out and listen to; only by weighing up that information can we then make an educated decision on our future.

My friend’s daughter is a newly qualified nurse, she is 23 and based at a Children’s hospital in London. After Christmas she was transferred to St Thomas’ to work on the intensive care adult COVID wards. What she relays about the 12 hour shifts and the people suffering in overburdened intensive care wards, along with reputable news outlets has helped me to decide what I should have injected into my body. But what if you are making that decision for another? What if you have been appointed as the Attorney under a Health and Welfare LPA, activated due to the Donor having lost capacity – what then? This is not about agreeing to take the vaccine yourself, but for the body of another. Do you feel as confident about making that decision?

An Attorney should do everything possible to help the Donor make a decision about the vaccination themselves. You should look at ways of refining the way in which you communicate with the Donor, perhaps in simpler language, or with pictures or videos. Is there an Advance Decision in place in which the Donor has specifically refused vaccinations of any sort? If so, this will be binding upon the Attorney. Perhaps the Donor is more lucid at certain times of the day, which provides an opportunity for the Attorney to have a conversation with them about the merits of the vaccine. In the absence of any assistance then the Attorney must make a ‘best interest’ decision. What are the risks and benefits; what wishes has the Donor expressed in the past about say, the flu vaccination; could it potentially increase visitor contact or other activities in the care home or setting where they live. If so, this could prove a significant benefit to the mental health of elderly clients living in Care Homes with little contact with the outside world. All of these factors need to be carefully considered in the ‘best interest’ of the donor.