The Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) has prepared a guideline for health practitioners, service providers and medical treatment decision makers on the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In brief, administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is considered to be medical treatment.
- If a person has decision-making capacity, they can consent to or refuse the COVID-19 vaccine.
- If they don’t have capacity, and there is no advance care directive, their medical treatment decision maker can consent to or refuse the vaccine.
- The consent or refusal must be based on the person’s values and preferences.
- If the person’s values and preferences can’t be determined, the decision must be based on what best promotes their personal and social wellbeing.
- If there is no medical treatment decision maker, a health practitioner, such as the person’s GP, needs to decide if the vaccine administration is ‘significant’ or ‘routine’ treatment.
- If it is routine treatment, the health practitioner can make the decision but must record the details in their notes.
- If it is significant treatment, for example if the injection will cause the person distress or there is a risk of significant side effects, the health practitioner must request the Public Advocate to make the decision (by completing the s63 online form).