COVID-19 vaccine injury & bereavement
Millions of people across the UK received multiple doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 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.
VITT and CVST
Adverse health impacts reported include blood clots. Tragically, in some cases the effects have been fatal: where individuals have developed Vaccine Induced Thrombocytic Thrombocytopenia (VITT), for example.
How are those affected currently supported?
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 suffer health impacts as a result of vaccination in the UK – what support is available to them?
The Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme 1979 (VDPS)
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 and applicants must also demonstrate that they have been at least ‘60% disabled’ according to a framework designed for industrial injuries.
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. Those affected have had to rely on savings, on the benefits system or the generosity of friends and family.
Epoch Times (registration required)
Reform of the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme 1979
It became clear that the support currently for those injured through vaccination in the UK is inadequate and difficult to access.
Hausfeld is driving forward the national conversation on how best to support the COVID-19 vaccination program whilst ensuring that injured individuals and their families are given access to appropriate financial and informational support.
We push for reform of the 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.
Action taken by Hausfeld so far
We brought together the affected families, so they could 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.
We 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 argued for proper support via reform of the VDPS system and the provision of comprehensive information to those affected by these issues.
We work 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 Inquiry. The terms of reference were confirmed by the Prime Minister on 28th June 2022 and the Inquiry's work is now underway. It has been confirmed that it will begin hearing evidence on 13 June 2023.
Some of the individuals we have been supporting have now set up a vaccine injured and bereaved support group, known as VIBUK, which provides support and resources to families in need.
Hausfeld have been approached by almost 60 individuals and families who allege that they have suffered devastating injuries or bereavement as a result of a rare complication of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Hausfeld group includes over 20 bereaved families and over 30 survivors whom suffered serious injuries caused by a confirmed diagnosis of “Vaccine Induced Thrombocytic Thrombocytopenia” or VITT.
A Letter of Claim was sent to AstraZeneca on 30 November 2022 and a formal Letter of Response is expected shortly. The claim is brought on the basis of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and argues that the AstraZeneca vaccine was “defective” in that it was not as safe as individuals were entitled to expect. VITT is now established as causatively linked with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Many of the Claimants have made applications to the VDPS which is intended to make ex gratia one off payments to individuals who suffer serious injury or bereavement as a result of vaccination. Those whose claims are accepted under the VDPS, under the current statute, can expect to receive a single payment of £120,000.
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:
BBC - Widower calls for easier access to vaccine damages payment
BBC - The story of Dr Stephen Wright
Mail Online - The story of Lisa Shaw
Mail Online - How several victims have been affected
Sky News: report one, report two
The Independent (subscription only)
The Telegraph (April 2023 - subscription only)
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?