Do recipients of the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in December have a legal case against the UK government’s decision to postpone their second dose?

Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
The Covid-19 pandemic in the UK has been greatly worsened by the mutation of the virus, which began in the South East and was rapidly spreading and in danger of overwhelming the NHS as hospital admissions and deaths continued to rise. In consequence, the Chief Medical Officers of all four nations supported the UK government’s sudden decision to delay the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech and Oxford/Astrazeneka vaccines for 12 weeks (instead of 3) so that more people in the most vulnerable population groups would receive a first dose and some immunity sooner. The expectation is that this strategy would reduce hospital admissions and deaths. This article considers key medical and legal issues arising from this decision and discusses inter alia rationing of scarce resources, fairness, whether it is for the greater good, consent, individual human rights, negligence and claims for potential or actual injury.

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