A scheme to ensure compensation after vaccine damages has been stalled once again – and the Department of Health is blaming the deployment of the necessary resources to the state’s Covid-19 response.
Critics say that such a scheme has been delayed for two decades, that claims related to adverse reactions to the Covid vaccine are now also in play, and that Ireland is behind the curve in establishing a scheme similar to what is available in other countries.
In April, Independent TD Denis Naughten sharply criticised the failure of the government to introduce vaccination compensation scheme for severe adverse reactions to State-promoted vaccinations, saying the matter has been dragging on now for two decades.
The Roscommon/Galway deputy asked the Minister for Health for “the status of plans” for the planned “no-fault vaccination compensation scheme” which he said has been promised in the past two programmes for Government – and “again promised by the former Taoiseach, Deputy Micheál Martin, in advance of the introduction of the Covid vaccination programme”.
“My engagement on this issue with various Ministers for Health has been ongoing for the past 250 months or more than two decades,” the Independent TD said.
“We now have claims related to adverse reactions to the Covid vaccine. When will a compensation scheme be introduced in this State, as is the case in many other countries?” he asked at that time.
In response to Naughten’s questions , Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said at the time that during the Covid crisis “all available Department of Health resources were devoted to the public health response. This has meant that work the Deputy is rightly calling for could not be progressed.”
Now, the Irish Times reports that the vaccine redress scheme “has ‘not progressed’ despite the Government previously indicating that the establishment of such a programme would be a priority”.
“At least 25 jurisdictions globally have vaccine-injury compensation programmes, 16 of which are in Europe. Most of those schemes cover medical expenses, disability pensions and death benefits, and payments are usually based on the severity of the vaccine injury,” the paper reports.
An expert group looking at the handling of medical negligence claims, chaired by Mr Justice Charles Meenan, recommended in its December 2020 report that a vaccination compensation scheme be introduced in Ireland as a matter of urgency.
Liam Moloney, an Irish solicitor whose firm represents a number of people who believe they have been left injured by vaccines told Irish Legal News last year that: “Many people who are suffering ongoing symptoms and illness following vaccination have been left in a very vulnerable position because of the lack of a comprehensive compensation scheme”.
“While vaccines are safe and have allowed us to resume normal life there can sometimes be very rare adverse reactions to them and many countries have established vaccine injury compensation schemes.”
“Vaccine compensation schemes encourage public confidence in vaccines and help reduce vaccine hesitancy. They also reduce the risk of costly, protracted and uncertain litigation for injured victims, vaccine manufacturers, the Irish State and the medical profession.”
“It is often only after many months of medical investigations that people are given a definite diagnosis of vaccine related illness. They are then forced to sue for compensation for pain and suffering, mental distress, medical care costs, loss of earnings and travel costs because there is no scheme.”