An Independent TD has 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 in for two decades.
Roscommon-Galway deputy, Denis Naughten, asked the Minister for Health for “the status of plans” for the planned “no-fault vaccination compensation scheme” which he said was 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.
In response, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that “patients concerned with a possible side effect or adverse reaction following a vaccination should, in the first instance, consult with their medical practitioner who can refer them as necessary to appropriate services following clinical assessment.”
He said 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.”
“It had been planned to progress it but it was not progressed. Further scoping work is required to pull the group together and to move this forward again as we must,” he said.
However, Deputy Naughten said that “scoping reports were done by the former Minister for Health, Deputy Micheál Martin, who gave a commitment when he was Minister to deliver on this. Every other Minister for Health since then has given this commitment.”
“We have this height of reports on this issue. This scheme has been introduced in 25 countries,” he said.
Naughten said he was “deeply disappointed by the Minister’s response”.
“The reality is that vaccination compensation schemes boost public confidence in respect of successful vaccination programmes,” he added.
“Back in 2020, the recommendation was that a vaccine injury scheme should be introduced as a matter of urgency. The Minister knows that there is a culture of fighting claims within the State Claims Agency and the health profession. There are parents who have been advocating on behalf of disabled children for more than 50 years and the doors have been slammed in their faces by the health profession telling them it is all in their heads,” he said.
“The Minister’s predecessor, in the 1980s, paid a £10,000 compensation package to get parents to shut up in relation to this. It is not good enough that decades later we are still talking about another report, another review and no action.”
Minister Donnelly responded by saying that the area was “complex” and that “sensitive policy decisions have to be made and extensive legal advice has to be obtained.”
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.”