In what appears to be the first case of a court ordered forced COVID-19 vaccination, a court in Galicia, Spain sided with a nursing home to require an incapacitated women to get the COVID-19 vaccine over her families objections. Even though the Spanish government has maintained that the novel vaccine would be voluntary, the nursing home effectively took custody of the woman, who suffered from dementia, and vaccinated her without the informed consent of her family.1
The woman was deemed, “incapacitated to provide valid consent,” according to the nursing home.2 Judge Javier Fraga Mandian stated that the court had a legal obligation to intervene and override the family’s wishes in order to protect the woman’s health and that his decision was not based on the welfare of other residents. He claimed He stated that his decision was based on what he determined was irrefutable evidence that not receiving the vaccine would be riskier than the side effects of the vaccine due to the “existence of tens of thousands of deaths” from coronavirus in Spain.3
Protecting Public Health Outweighs Informed Consent of Families Say Judges in Spain
The company running the nursing home, DomusVi, claimed that 98 percent of the 15,000 residents in all of the nursing homes it manages agreed to get the novel vaccine and the two percent, who chose to not get the shots, were capable of making their own decision.4
Domus Vi said it went to court to force vaccination of the woman in this case because of concerns about the health of other residents and health care workers in the nursing home.5
Another court in Seville, Spain was faced with a similar legal issue a short time later when a nursing home wanted to force a severely incapacitated 87-year-old resident to get the COVID-19 vaccine contrary to her son’s wishes. Siding with the nursing home, the judge said that protecting the public health outweighed her son’s objection to the vaccination.6
In another case, a prosecutor in southern Spain said that any family member acting as a legal guardian for an incapacitated resident in a nursing home would run the risk of losing the guardianship should they not agree to vaccination.7
Unknown If COVID-19 Vaccines Prevent Infection and Transmission
COVID-19 vaccines have not been tested to determine whether they prevent transmission of the new coronavirus. Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) have stated that it is not clear whether COVID-19 vaccines can prevent asymptomatic infection and transmission. WHO chief scientist and pediatrician Soumya Swaminathan, MD said:
We continue to wait for more results from the vaccine trials to really understand whether the vaccines, apart from preventing symptomatic disease and severe disease and deaths, whether they’re also going to reduce infection or prevent people from getting infected with the virus, then from passing it on or transmitting it to other people. I don’t’ believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from actually getting the infection and therefore being able to pass it on.8
Despite the lack of evidence that the vaccine prevents infection and transmission of the coronavirus, Spain has made vaccinating nursing home residents a priority since the vaccine was approved in December 2020.9 On Jan. 12, 2021, Spain’s health minister Salvador Illa said that all nursing home residents were expected to receive the COVID-19 vaccine within the week.10
Outbreaks of COVID-19 Following Vaccination Campaigns in Nursing Homes in Spain
The rush to vaccinate residents in nursing homes has been met with mass outbreaks of COVID-19 among nursing home staff and residents following vaccination campaigns. All but one resident in a nursing home in Lagarta, Spain came down with COVID-19 after the staff and residents received their first shot of the vaccine. Within six days of the mass vaccination program, 10 residents had symptoms of COVID-19 and the outbreak led to nine deaths. The second dose of the vaccine was given on Feb. 3. The general director of the company, who runs the nursing home, said that he didn’t think the outbreak was caused by the vaccine and, “the sooner everyone receives their vaccine, the better.”11
Another major COVID-19 outbreak occurred in a nursing home in Torrevieja, Spain where all of the 42 workers and residents tested positive for coronavirus a week after they were given the first dose of the vaccine. The second dose originally scheduled for Jan. 25 has been postponed until the staff and residents have a full screening and no longer test positive for SARS-CoV-2.12
Up until now, mandatory vaccination laws were rarely enforced through court order in Europe.
Click here to view References:
1 Wilson J, Cheng M. Spain: Judge orders incapacitated woman to get virus vaccine. The Associated Press Jan. 13, 2021.
3 Wilson J, Cheng M. Spain: Judge orders incapacitated woman to get virus vaccine. ABC News Jan. 13, 2021.
4 Wilson J, Cheng M. Spain: Judge orders incapacitated woman to get virus vaccine. The Associated Press Jan. 13, 2021.
6 Spain’s elderly get second COVID-19 shot as infection rates soar. Reuters Jan. 18, 2021.
7 Wilson J, Cheng M. Spain: Judge orders incapacitated woman to get virus vaccine. The Associated Press Jan. 13, 2021.
8 Fisher BL. WHO, Fauci Warn COVID-19 Vaccines May Not Prevent Infection and Disease Transmission. The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 3, 2021.
9 Spain aims for all care home residents to get first COVID-19 vaccine dose by weekend. Reuters Jan. 12, 2021.
10 Spain pushes to vaccinate all nursing home residents within a week. RT Jan. 12, 2021.
11 Hodge M. COVID TRAGEDY Nine care home residents dead and 69 infected in mass Covid outbreak six days after getting vaccine. The Sun Feb. 2, 2021.
12 Trelinski A. Entire Nursing Home Catches COVID- 19 On Spain’s Costa Blanca A week After First vaccination. The Olive Press Jan. 18, 2021.