Vaccination of Wards of Court-the legal position

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The President of the High Court has issued a guidance note regarding the issue of vaccination of wards of court and intended wards of court. Remember: a ward of court may lack decision making capacity.

Firstly, vaccination of all wards of court against covid-19 should be carried out using the same procedure used for the administration of the way the flu vaccine. The ward’s treating clinician should decide, taking into account medical history and weighing up the risks, whether or not the vaccine should be administered.

Secondly, if the Committee of the ward objects a medical opinion should be put forward as to why there is an objection and why it is not in the ward’s best interest that they are vaccinated. The treating clinician will review the evidence forming the basis of the objection and make a decision.

Vaccination will then proceed unless the Committee makes an application to the High Court.

Where the ward objects to receiving the vaccine, the treating clinician should be asked for his opinion as to whether the ward is capable of making an informed decision as to the vaccine. If the ward does not have capacity the committee will be notified, and vaccination will go ahead unless an application is made to court.

If, on the other hand, the ward does have capacity then vaccination will not go ahead.

In any case where a refusal to the vaccination could impact on the ward’s placement the matter should be listed before the High Court for directions.