Barcelona, Spain (Associated Press)-A judge in northwestern Spain overturned a family’s objections and decided to allow health authorities to use coronavirus vaccines on incapacitated women in nursing homes.
This case appears to be the first known case in the European Court of Justice, requiring someone to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Spanish government has repeatedly emphasized that shooting is voluntary, as have the authorities of other European countries.
In the Associated Press’s ruling on Wednesday, a judge of the Galician Autonomous Northwest Community Court recently ruled that the nursing home made a request to overturn the refusal of the elderly resident’s family and continue to grant her the right of abode. vaccine.
According to the ruling, the resident was deemed to have suffered cognitive loss by the medical staff of the nursing home to the extent that he was “incapable of providing valid consent”.
Judge Javier Fraga Mandián (Javier Fraga Mandián) said that the court is obliged to intervene by law to protect women̵
DomusVi, the company that runs the nursing home, told the Associated Press through its public relations agency that this is the only situation in which a family does not want to vaccinate its residents among all the houses managed in Spain, and that the resident is considered incapable of being vaccinated. Personal health decisions.
DomusVi said 98% of the 15,000 residents of nursing homes in the country agreed to receive the vaccine. It said that the remaining 2% refused to be vaccinated, but unlike the woman, they were considered suitable for making health decisions on their own.
DomusVi stated that its lawsuit is to protect the health of all workers and residents of nursing home residents and workers in Galician facilities and requires the court to intervene.
Since obtaining EU authorization in late December, Spain has administered 581,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Spain will also launch the first batch of Moderna vaccines.
Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Thursday that Spain’s rejection rate of vaccines is very low, almost anecdotal.
Nursing homes in Spain and throughout Europe have been damaged by the coronavirus, which spreads rapidly among the elderly and people who are weakened by pre-existing diseases. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it is estimated that more than 25,000 COVID-19 patients have died in Spanish nursing homes.
Other court cases regarding involuntary vaccination may be about to emerge.
In southern Spain, a national prosecutor recently stated that if any family member acts as the legal guardian of a nursing home incapable of working, they may lose custody if they refuse to allow their relatives to be vaccinated.
The Italian government approved the “Decree of the day of the week”, which clearly authorizes the hospital head and individual doctor representatives who cannot vaccinate themselves, including residents of nursing homes who are incapacitated and do not have the consent of their guardian, to express their consent to vaccinate.
This procedure requires doctors to submit written documents to the judge, who has 48 hours to approve or reject the request.
Although nearly a dozen European countries have enacted compulsory vaccination laws for diseases including polio, measles and diphtheria. The courts rarely enforce these laws, even though a Belgian court fined two parents and sentenced them to five months in prison for failing to vaccinate their children against polio in 2008.
Unlike the COVID-19 vaccine (which is still technically considered an experimental vaccine), the vaccine required by European law is a mature vaccine that has been used for decades.
The World Health Organization has previously stated that it does not recommend compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus because it may undermine public confidence in existing vaccines.
At a press conference last month, Dr. Kate O’Brien, head of the WHO vaccine department, said that she believes that it would be better if countries create a “positive environment” for immunization rather than mandatory regulations. . But O’Brien acknowledged that in certain high-risk environments (such as hospitals), it may make sense to require staff and patients to be vaccinated.
Some ethicists say that considering that she lives in a nursing home, she is at a high risk of COVID-19, so the court’s decision to vaccinate the woman is likely to be reasonable.
Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre, said: “The court must examine the balance of possibilities. If the woman is an elderly woman, the risk of dying from COVID is higher than the low probability of adverse events.” Oxford University Of practical ethics.
He said that even in countries without compulsory vaccination laws, the state has an obligation to protect the people when the people who make decisions on behalf of the people may not be in their best interests.
Savulescu said: “If you don’t vaccinate this woman and she died of COVID, then people will say:’Why don’t you protect her?”
Maria Cheng reports from Toronto. Nicole Winfield of Rome and Aritz Parra of Madrid contributed this story.
Learn about AP’s pandemic reports at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak