COVID-19 vaccine injury & bereavement
Millions of people across the UK have received up to three dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The scheme has rightly been hailed as a huge success in terms of the speed with which a significant proportion of the UK population has been fully vaccinated.
Whilst the medical world universally agrees that vaccination is an effective tool in tackling the pandemic, it comes with the caveat that side-effects are rare but real. Indeed, the UK Medicines and Health Regulatory Authority (the MHRA) has reported that some individuals have suffered adverse health impacts as a result of COVID-19 vaccination. Adverse health impacts reported include blood clots and a serious neurological condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Tragically, in some cases the effects have been fatal where individuals have developed Vaccine Induced Thrombocytic Thrombocytopenia (VITT), for example.
The Government and regulatory agencies in the UK are closely monitoring the health impacts of COVID-19 vaccinations. The number of people suffering adverse health impacts is very small, particularly in the context of the very large numbers of people in the UK who have safely accessed the vaccines. When individuals do suffer health impacts as a result of vaccination in the UK – what support is available to them?
How are those affected currently supported?
The Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme 1979
Created by legislation implemented in 1979, the VDPS is intended to provide financial support to those who are injured as a result of vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination. However, the support provided is limited to a single, lump-sum payment of £120,000 – an amount which has not been updated in line with inflation since 2007 - and compares poorly with compensation paid out in other personal injury cases. Moreover, the payment is only granted to those who can prove it is more likely than not that their injury was caused by the vaccine - proving a causal link between the harm suffered and the vaccination is a difficult task, particularly in circumstances where the science and medical understanding is evolving on an almost daily basis. Applicants must also demonstrate that they have been at least ‘60% disabled’ according to a framework designed for industrial injuries in order to qualify for a payment through the VDPS.
As reported in the media, various experts have openly questioned the effectiveness of the VDPS, indicating the scheme is not fit for purpose.
Much needed financial support has been very slow in reaching the affected families – with only the first payments being made in the week of 20th June 2022 - and thus defying the very purpose of the scheme. During the extensive waiting period, those affected have had to rely on savings, or in the absence of those, on the benefits system or the generosity of friends and family.
Reform of the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme 1979
Through conversations with individuals and families of those injured through vaccination, it became clear that the support currently being made available in the event of vaccine injury in the UK is inadequate and difficult to access.
Hausfeld is driving forward the national conversation on how best to support the continued roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination program whilst ensuring that injured individuals and their families are given access to appropriate financial and informational support.
Our current focus is on pushing for reform of the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS).
We have been working with affected families and other stakeholders to raise awareness around how this scheme is outdated, obscure and difficult to access and to seek urgent reform of the VDPS system.
Hausfeld takes action
We are bringing together the affected families, so they can share their experiences with others in a similar situation and offer/receive mutual mental support while also creating awareness around some of the issues described above. Our hope is that the families we represent will be able to access the support they urgently need, and that others who may sadly need to rely on the scheme in future, will encounter a system that is comprehensive and fit for purpose.
We have submitted a letter, written jointly with many of the families we represent, to Members of Parliament and other influential public figures, setting out what they have suffered and the challenges they face. The letter argues for proper support via reform of the VDPS system and the provision of comprehensive information to those affected by these issues who have, too often, had to rely on their own online research.
We have been working with Lord Philip Hunt, in the House of Lords, and Sir Christopher Chope, in the House of Commons to encourage the Government to engage in reform of the VDPA. Health and Care Bill - Hansard - UK Parliament
We were successful in campaigning for the inclusion of vaccine injury and the adequacy of the VDPS within the final Terms of Reference of the COVID-19 Public Enquiry. The terms of reference were confirmed by the Prime Minister on 28th June 2022 and the enquiry will commence early 2023.
We have also helped to set up a vaccine injured and bereaved support group, known as VIBUK, who provide support and resources to families in need.
It has been confirmed that some individuals with whom Hausfeld has been working will be granted the first COVID-19 VDPA payments in the UK.
We are also actively considering legal options with the objective of providing further financial redress to those who have suffered side effects from COVID-19 vaccination. We are in the early stages of our work.
Hausfeld works actively with the media to raise the profile of the issues. Some of the news channels and broadsheets have already reported on these crucial issues:
Sky News: report one, report two
The Independent (subscription only)
The Telegraph (subscription only)
Covid: Widower calls for easier access to vaccine damages payment - an interview with Sarah Moore, BBC News
Have you been affected?
If you have suffered injury or bereavement as a consequence of Vaccine Induced Thrombocytic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) or CVST, in particular, and would like to be added to our mailing list concerning potential legal action, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other action you can take:
- Yellow Card: If you or someone close to you has suffered an adverse effect following vaccination then it is vital that you register details via the YellowCard system. Only by reporting complications can we enable our regulator the Medicine Healthcare Regulatory Agency to do its job properly.
- Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme Application Form: A copy of the current form and further information about the scheme.
- COVID-19 adverse event reports are collated by the MHRA and updates are published here.
- Hausfeld Perspectives: Vaccine safety: thinking beyond the headlines, COVID-19 and the challenge of herd immunity: what role can the law play?, Is it time for a bespoke COVID-19 compensation scheme?