People with dementia are in the current priority groups to receive any new coronavirus vaccine. But what does this mean for people with dementia, and what will happen if a person is not able to give consent to have the vaccine.
The government has produced interim guidance on the priority groups for the new coronavirus vaccine. People living and working in care homes came top of the list, with people aged over 80 and other health and social care workers next.
These groups include many people living with dementia, some of whom will have lost the ability to make certain decisions. This raises important legal and ethical issues for the person and those who care for them.
The Alzheimer’s Society has put together some helpful guidance on how to advise a person with dementia on the benefits of vaccinating against COVID-19 and what to do if the person no longer has the mental capacity to make the decision.
If the person still has the mental capacity to decide for themselves, then they should make the decision.
A health professional should explain the reasons and benefits for taking the vaccine, along with any risks and the consequences of not taking the vaccine.
There must be no coercion in the discussion.
If the person does not have the mental capacity to make the decision, then a decision will need to be made on their behalf, taking into account a person’s best interests. Consideration should be given to who else should be consulted.