Govt “kicking the can down the road” on vaccine damage compensation scheme

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The Department of Health has been “kicking the can down the road” on establishing a unit to deal with a vaccine damage compensation scheme.

Galway TD Denis Naughten said that three years after receiving a report on how vaccine damage claims are currently handled, the Department of Health has still failed to move forward on a compensation scheme.

Denis Naughten recently questioned the Minister for Health on plans to introduce a no-fault compensation scheme for severe adverse reactions to State-promoted vaccination programmes.

He said that the Minister confirmed that it was recommended that unit be established in the Department of Health specifically to ensure that a vaccine compensation scheme is fit for purpose.

However, this has yet to be established, or resources provided for it to be set up Denis Naughten stated.

Deputy Naughten said that the government has only been paying “lip service” to the idea that vaccine damage compensation claims will be taken out of the courts.

“Clearly nothing is happening behind the scenes other than kicking the can down the road”.

“How many children have to be dragged through the courts to get the expert support that they need as a result of being damaged by a State supported vaccination programme, before we will see any action?”

“I’m aware of children damage by vaccines over 50 years ago who are still waiting for such a scheme, and that is just not good enough.”

“This is despite the then Minister for Health, in the early 1980s, offering a once off payment of £10,000 to 16 families of children who were on the ‘balance of probabilities’ damaged by the State vaccination programme.”

Back in 2020, an expert review on the handling of medical negligence claims was led by Mr Justice Charles Meenan was submitted the Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice.

This urged the establishment of a vaccine compensation scheme as a matter of urgency.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, responding to Deputy Naughten in the Dáil, said that work had begun on bringing together an interdepartmental group in 2020, but that personnel and resources were pulled away by the COVID pandemic.

There is a culture of fighting claims within the State Claims Agency and health profession, Denis Naughten said, with many parents advocating on behalf of disabled children for decades.

“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.”

“It is not good enough that decades later we are still talking about another report, another review and no action.”