Nursing homes are preparing for the arrival of the first vaccines, while the approval of the next of kin to the vaccination may prove more problematic than logistical issues.
If the initial amounts of the vaccine will be used to vaccinate healthcare workers, the vaccine should be made available to nursing home residents and staff in the next round. Nursing homes made preparations for the vaccination this week.
“Medical matters such as vaccination require the person’s consent, and if the person cannot give consent himself, it has to come from relatives,” said Külli Friedemann, head of the health committee’s department for first contact services.
Nursing homes this week started soliciting patient relatives for approval. Friedemann said she didn’t think residents would refuse the vaccine or fear the shot.
“The most difficult aspect is the relationship between the residents and their next of kin. It often happens that a person is brought into a house and forgotten there,” said Friedemann.
Jaanika Luus, director of the Iru nursing home on the outskirts of the Lasnamäe district in Tallinn, hopes they will manage to vaccinate 75 to 80 percent of the home’s 300 residents, despite more people fear the COVID-19 vaccine than they relate to on flu vaccines. Around five percent of residents have refused to be vaccinated, while people are free to change their minds at any time.
“The situation is most delicate with people who are not under guardianship but have trouble understanding the world. Problems arise when residents and their immediate relatives who have no guardianship disagree. One agrees to vaccinate and the other one doesn’t. That is when we’re worried about how to proceed, “said Luus.
She said the nursing home was under no obligation to examine the next of kin position. “But it is a moral dilemma when you know that the person is no longer really competent when there is no guardianship and you want to refrain from violating the rights of others,” said Luus.
Luus said one of the staff at the nursing home decided not to get vaccinated. The home has no plans to recall its duties, although doing so could increase the risk of the virus being brought into the nursing home. Luus hoped that maybe they would change their minds.
The start of vaccination in nursing homes depends on how much vaccine is made available to Estonia.
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