Giving the Covid-19 vaccine to someone living with dementia

Giving the Covid-19 vaccine

Think about how you can prepare and support them to have the vaccine.

  • Prepare yourself and fully understand the requirements
  • Gain consent for the person to have the vaccine (if possible)
  • Fully explain, taking the necessary time and being patient
  • Choose the right time for the vaccination (lots to consider)
  • When the vaccine is given – remember, the vaccinator is a stranger
  • Following the vaccination

Some more detail as required:

  1. Getting prepared

  • Give yourself some time to find out more about the Covid-19 vaccine from trusted sources.
  • You need time to discuss and address any potential questions you or the person with dementia may have.
  • Consider what you already know about the person’s past wishes, choices or experiences of vaccinations; for example, do they usually have the annual flu vaccine or have they had any side effects in the past?


  1. Gaining consent for the vaccine

  • If they are unable to give consent, then consent must be obtained via a ‘best interest’ decision (this is when someone is unable to make a decision for themselves, so the decision may have to be made for them).
  • Healthcare professionals may have to make a decision in the person’s ‘best interests.’ This is based upon their previous wishes and decisions as well as close consultation with friends, family members or anyone else who knows the person with dementia closely.


  1. Fully explain, be honest and respect the person’s independence

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  • It’s important that the person with dementia retains their independence and feels in control, as much as possible.
  • Make sure you choose a time and place that suits them.
  • Keep noise and distraction to a minimum.
  • Use short sentences and simple language to explain what needs to be done and why it is important.
  • Give the person time to hear and ask you any questions.
  • Pause between each of your sentences.
  • Visual prompt cards can be used to provide further explanation as well.
  • A warm and friendly tone can help to relieve any nervousness that the person with dementia may have about receiving the vaccine.


  1. Choose your timing carefully

  • Sometimes people with dementia can need more time to do and understand things than others. Be patient.
  • If the person is experiencing heightened anxiety or distress, rebook the vaccine at a different time and consider how you can support them next time.


  1. When the vaccine is given

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  • Accompanying them to have their injection (if allowed).
  • Make suggestions as to how to support the person with dementia, for example asking if the vaccinator can introduce themselves, especially if they are wearing a mask or visor, and reminders that the vaccine is given by an injection in their arm.
  • Consider distraction techniques whilst the injection is being administered by the health care professional; this can be conversation, music, a reassuring touch or hand massage. Getting them to hold a favourite item can also bring comfort.


  1. After the vaccine

  • Reassure the person with dementia after the vaccine, whilst being mindful of your tone and body language.
  • You could offer a drink afterwards, or do a favourite activity of theirs, or rest if they are feeling tired.
  • Check to see how they are feeling as it might have been a tiring time for them as well as for any physical side effects.