Court says vulnerable woman can be offered vaccine despite family's objections

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

The 50-year-old woman, known as 'X', lives in supported accommodation in West Derby.

She is classed as lacking capacity, and as clinically vulnerable, and her doctors recommended she get a Covid-19 vaccine.

Liverpool NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had asked the court to declare it in the best interests of X to be offered the jab.

However her sister, 'Y', opposed her being offered the vaccine based on fears of "unknown risks".

Y also said her sister had tested positive for antibodies of the virus which she argued meant the vaccine was not necessary.

Adam Fullwood, representing Liverpool CCG, said X would not be physically forced to take it if she refused and her "wishes would be respected".

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 circumstances where it has not been possible to evaluate the potential for any adverse medium or long term side effects."

The disabled woman can have the vaccine after a court overruled objections by her family.

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, which was another vaccine related hearing.

In that case, 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: "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."

The judge ruled that it was in X's best interests to be offered the vaccine in accordance to an "eight point" care plan.

He noted she would not be physically forced to take it or offered any "treat" or incentive to accept the jab.