Spain: Judge orders incapacitated woman to get virus vaccine
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A judge in northwest Spain overruled the objections of a family and agreed to allow the health authority to send an incapacitated woman in a nursing home a Coronavirus vaccine.
The case seems to be the first known European court case requesting anyone to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Spanish Government has consistently emphasized that shoots must be voluntary, as would other European countries' authorities.
In an opinion made by The Associated Press on Wednesday, the Court judge in the Northwest Autonomous Region of Galicia recently determined in favor of an appeal from a nursing home that the relatives of the elderly resident should be refused and the vaccine should continue to be offered it.
The resident was found by medical professionals in the treatment center to be cognitive loss to the degree that, according to the decision, she "was unable to give valid consent."
Judge Javier Fraga Mandián claimed that the Court had a moral responsibility to act to protect the welfare of the woman.
He said that his decision was based not on the well-being of other residents but on what he considered to be irrefutable evidence that not taking the vaccine was more dangerous than any potential side effects.
The nursing company DomusVi told the AP, through its Public Relations Department, that this was the only situation for a family who did not wish to vaccinate a citizen who had been found incapable of taking personal health decisions out of all its households in Spain.
DomusVi said that the vaccine was agreed to by 98% of the 15,000 people in his nursing homes in the region.
The other 2 percent declined to be vaccinated, but contrary to the fact that the women are considered fit to make their own health decisions.
DomusVi said it requested the court's intervention for the health of both the staff and citizens of Galicia's nursing homes and workers.
Since it was approved by the European Union in late December, Spain has administered more than 581,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Spain will soon be implementing the first Moderna vaccine batches.
Health Minister Salvador Illa Thursday said Spain is having "a very low, almost anecdotal rejection of the vaccine."
Coronavirus has ravaged nursing homes in Spain and throughout Europe, which spreads easily among the aged and people affected by current medical conditions.
It is estimated that more than 25,000 patients with COVID-19 have died in Spanish nursing homes since the pandemic started.
Other legal proceedings concerning non-voluntary vaccination management could be on the way.
A State Public Prosecutor recently said that any family members who serve as legal guardians for injured nurses could forfeit their custody if they failed to grant consent for the vaccination of their relatives.
The Italian Government has approved a decree las week to expressly empower the chiefs of hospitals and doctors of particular hospitals to have inoculation consent on behalf of patients who do not, including caregivers, injured and unwanted patients.
The protocol demands that doctors send written reports to a judge with 48 hours to accept or refuse the submission.
While nearly a dozen EU countries have universal disease vaccination regulations, including polio, measles and diphtheria.
Legislation is scarcely enforced by judges, but in 2008, a Belgian court sentenced two sets of parents to 5 months in jail for having refused to vaccinate their children against polio.
Unlike COVID-19 vaccines still legally accepted as experimental, European law-based vaccines have been developed for decades.
Previously, the World Health Organisation has reported that it would not advocate compulsory coronavirus vaccination, as it fears that it will weaken consumer trust in the available vaccines.
Dr. Kate O'Brien, who leads WHO's vaccine agency, told a press conference last month that she found it best if countries created "a positive immunization environment" in comparison with the mandates.
Yet O'Brien understood that it could be helpful to seek vaccinations from staff and patients in certain high-risk settings, such as hospitals.
The court's decision to require the vaccination of women was probably explained by some ethicists by their high risk for COVID-19, as it lives in an elderly home.
"The Court has to look at the probability balance and when the woman is elderly, the risk of death is much higher than the risk of death from COVID," said Julian Savulescu, the head of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Functional Ethics at Oxford university.
He said that the State is obligated to protect citizens even in countries that do not have obligatory vaccine rules, when decision-making on their behalf cannot suit its own interests.
"If you don't vaccinate this lady, then people would say, 'Why did you not protect her?
" said Savulescu. "
Nicole Winfield of Rome and Aritz Parra of Madrid contributed to this article. Maria Cheng wrote from Toronto.
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