Judge rules disabled woman should be offered the Covid jab

Judge rules disabled woman with severe epilepsy and learning difficulties should be offered the Covid jab despite objections from her family

  • Doctors recommended ‘X’ classes as clinically vulnerable, get the Covid vaccine
  • But her sister ‘Y’ opposed her being offered jab based on fears of ‘unknown risks’ 
  • Judge Peter Gregory ruled it was in X’s best interests to be offered the vaccine
  • However she won’t be physically forced and can still refuse the jab if she wishes

A judge has ruled that a disabled woman with severe epilepsy and learning difficulties should be offered the Covid vaccine – despite objections from her family. 

The woman, referred to as ‘X’ in court documents, is 50 and lives in supported accommodation in West Derby. 

She is classed as lacking capacity, and as clinically vulnerable, and her doctors recommended she get the coronavirus jab.

However her sister, referred to as ‘Y’, adamantly opposed her being offered the vaccine based on fears of ‘unknown risks’. 

Y, who the Court of Protection heard considered herself a ‘mother figure’ to the woman, also said her sister had tested positive for antibodies of the virus which she argued meant the vaccine was not necessary.

Liverpool NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) applied for the court to declare it in the best interests of X to be offered the vaccine, although Adam Fullwood, representing the CCG, said she would not be physically forced to take it if she refused and her ‘wishes would be respected’.

A disabled woman with severe epilepsy and learning difficulties can be offered the Covid vaccine after a court overruled objections by her family

In a written judgment, Judge Peter Gregory stated: ‘Having heard her give evidence, it is clear that Y is implacably opposed to her younger sister receiving the vaccination: citing the unknown risks, in her perception, attendant upon vaccination by any one of a number of Covid vaccines, each of which has been developed, approved, licensed and introduced on a dramatically accelerated and truncated basis and in circumstances where it has not been possible to evaluate the potential for any adverse medium or long term side effects.

‘A significant feature in Y’s view is that X has in fact tested positive for antibodies to the virus, and therefore can be considered to have a measure of natural immunity to it.’

Judge Gregory said Y had presented an ‘impressive body of research’ about the risks of the vaccine, but cited the case of SD v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, heard in 2021. 

In that case, another vaccine related hearing, Mr Justice Hayden stated: ‘It is not the function of the Court of Protection to arbitrate medical controversy or to provide a forum for ventilating speculative theories.’

The court also heard from the woman’s GP and a consultant neurologist who treated her severe form of epilepsy. Both recommended that X be offered the jab.

Francis Hoar, representing X’s sister, argued that the pandemic was now reaching a stage where it remains ‘very transmissible’ but is less severe. 

However Judge Gregory sided with the medical experts, stating: ‘It is clear from the current steadily rising tide of infections accompanied by uplifts in hospitalisations and deaths that the virus continues to represent a threat…. the virus is potentially lethal, and there is evidence that even if it does not cause death it can leave people very ill and with long term sequelae.’

Judge Gregory ruled that it was in X’s best interests to be offered the vaccine in accordance to an ‘eight point’ care plan, and noted she would not be physically forced to take it or offered any ‘treat’ or incentive to accept the jab.

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