In December 2020, a review of medical negligence claims recommended the introduction of a compensation scheme for those who had suffered injuries arising from receiving a vaccination.
The Government has now indicated that work is being done to establish such a scheme in Ireland. This scheme will not be solely designed to compensate those affected by the COVID-19 vaccination programme, it will instead apply to a range of vaccination programmes in the State.
This scheme would seek to compensate those who suffered adverse side effects from a vaccine. Unfortunately, vaccines can sometimes lead to rare and complicated injuries. Risks from vaccines are low, but not totally remote.
There are calls to introduce a no fault vaccine injury compensation programme, modelled on similar ones around Europe. A no fault scheme would mean that claimants would not be required to prove negligence on the part of the vaccine manufacturers. This scheme could also make the process of achieving compensation for vaccine related injury much more accessible to individuals. The process would likely be less costly and more time efficient for claimants.
Details of the scheme have not yet been made available but it is thought that it may be funded by the State and Vaccine Manufacturers. Information available at present suggests that the scheme will cover legal costs while awards may be lower than the awards made by a Court at trial.
It will still be necessary to provide medical evidence to establish a clear link to the vaccine and the injuries sustained but it is hoped that the process would be less onerous on claimants under the compensation scheme.
There is no timeline at present for the proposed date of the scheme however it is being established as a “matter of urgency” according to Government.
This is a welcome development in the area of medical negligence.
As we have seen, vaccinations have become key in the continued fight against COVID-19. It is hoped that the establishment of a compensation scheme would help to ensure and maintain public confidence in vaccinations while hopefully making the claim process more straightforward for those seeking redress.