Call for UK Government to overhaul dated compensation scheme and offer better support to victims of the COVID vaccine
Side effects are rare and to be expected when millions of people are vaccinated as part of a mass vaccination programme such as we have seen to combat COVID-19. In a conversation with Samuel Lovett, Science Correspondent at The Independent, London Partner, Sarah Moore and some of the affected families she represents agree it is important to continue taking the jabs but argue that more needs to be done to provide greater financial, emotional and clinical help to those who, in very rare instances, react adversely.
All families interviewed mentioned the “frustrating” absence of information whether it is finding out what support they are entitled to and how they can claim or whether the vaccine was responsible for their loved ones’ condition.
“They are in a state of bewilderment,” said Sarah Moore. “They have loved ones who are in intensive care or suffering severe health effects. In one case the person affected died. The families feel that there is nowhere to go, no explanation, no help.”
Under legislation passed in 1979, people who suffer harm from vaccines can claim damages from the government of up to £120,000 through the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS) providing the victims can prove that the vaccination caused at least 60 per cent disability - a high threshold.
In a previous blog, Sarah warned that the inadequacy of the current VDPS processes would be further exacerbated by the scale of the pandemic and that the 30-year old scheme is problematic in the way it assesses eligibility for payments.
This was highlighted by one case handled by Sarah, relating to a 32-year-old doctor, Stephen Wright, who died eight days after he had received the AstraZeneca vaccine from a rare clotting in the brain. In accordance with the VDPS, his family are entitled up to £120,000 in damages. In a world of technology, applications are archaic and solely paper-based form without acknowledgement of receipt or ability to track progress.
Other people represented by Sarah include those suffering from GBS, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the nerves and is typically active for up to four weeks, but which can last for longer. These cases are less clear-cut, with no definitive relationship established between the condition and vaccination.
“In order to receive financial compensation, cause and effect would have to be established, and in cases of GBS that is difficult. However, any scheme could also provide support in a wider sense of the word,” Sarah said, adding that there is a need for “clinical support and a hub of places where people can go to have sensible conversations with experts about what’s gone on”.