As the Government COVID-19 Vaccination Program is underway, what does this mean for residents in Residential Care Facilities (‘RCF’)? Are residents able to consent or refuse to receive the COVID-19 vaccination?
COVID-19 vaccination roll out
There are five phases in the Commonwealth Government vaccination rollout, of which RCF’s are in Phase 1.
The plan to roll out the vaccination is as follows:
- Phase 1a: includes aged care and disability care staff and aged care and disability care residents.
- Phase 1b: includes elderly adults aged 80 years and over, elderly adults aged 70-79 years, other health care workers, people aged 55 and over, and younger adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability.
Is the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?
In Australia, the Covid-19 vaccination is not mandatory but is strongly recommended by both Commonwealth and State Governments.
Currently, it's at the discretion of the individual RCF's to screen and monitor entry based on the Covid-19 vaccination. The requirement for flu vaccination, however, is mandated for visitors before entry into the facility.
Providing consent for the vaccination
Individual residents of facilities can be vaccinated on-site. Whereas, older Australians who receive Commonwealth-funded home and community aged care may receive the vaccination through attendance at clinics, GP practices and vaccination hubs as they meet priority eligibility.
People who meet priority eligibility will still need to provide valid consent before receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
Therefore, any Aged Care Resident with capacity must consider whether they wish to receive the vaccination and then provide the same consent.
In the case of residents without legal capacity, their appointed substitute decision maker will make this decision for them through a supported decision-making process. It's important for substitute decision makers to consider the individual's wishes and preferences around vaccination before providing consent.
What is valid consent?
In the case of the COVID-19 vaccination, valid consent is the voluntary agreement by the individual receiving the vaccination.
For consent to be valid, the procedure must be consented to after the individual, or their decision maker, has been provided with sufficient, appropriate and reliable information about the vaccination, including the potential risks and benefits.
This information should preferably be in written form, and include:
- What controls are in place to manage adverse events;
- What adverse events are possible;
- How common they are; and
- What should be done in the event of an adverse reaction.
Criteria for valid consent
For consent to be legally valid, the following must occur:
- Consent must be given by a person with legal capacity and of sufficient intellectual capacity to understand the implications of receiving the vaccination;
- Consent must be given voluntarily, without any undue pressure, coercion or manipulation;
- The information provided to the individual must cover the specific procedure that will be performed;
- The information provided must be in a way that the individual understands; and
- The potential risks and benefits of the vaccination, the risks of not receiving it, and any alternative options have been explained to the individual
Consent should be provided in accordance with the Commonwealth Vaccination consent form in conjunction with the protocols of each RCF.
Residents must also consent to both doses at the same time before the first dose is administered. A record of the resident's consent will be held on-site and provided to the entity responsible for vaccinations.
If you do not understand consent or feel undue pressure from your health care provider to consent to the vaccination, our Wills and Estates team at Andersons Solicitors are willing to help.
Please contact us today.