On 20 April 2023, the Constitutional Court has issued a ruling on the vaccination of people with disabilities under the Patient Autonomy Law.

The court rejected a request for protection brought by the son and guardian of an elderly woman with severe dementia who could not provide informed consent to the Covid-19 vaccine. The court found that administering a vaccine involves the injection of a substance into the human body for the purpose of provoking an immune response, which falls within the self-determination rights guaranteed by the constitutional right to personal integrity. However, a non-consensual vaccination must meet the general requirements of restricting the fundamental right to personal integrity. This includes a precise legal mandate and passing a proportionality test.

The court acknowledged that vaccination may have legitimate goals, such as protecting the person affected and achieving public health objectives, including protecting the public from epidemics, which is a constitutional duty of the state. In this case, the court found that the legal provision allowing for interference with the right to personal integrity (Article 9(6) of the Patient Autonomy Law) served the exclusive purpose of protecting the interests of the affected person in a situation where she was unable to provide valid consent and was in danger of harm to her health.

The court held that the lower court correctly weighed the interests of the disabled person, who lacked the ability to express her will due to the progressive nature of her illness, and that vaccination had greater benefits than harm in terms of protecting her individual health. Finally, the court rejected a request to recuse the judge who authored the opinion, finding it was submitted too late.

Reference: nota informativa n°30/2023.

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