Supporting those with extreme reactions to vaccines

28 Apr 2021 | 3 mins

A vaccination scheme to compensate people who have serious reactions to COVID vaccines and other types of vaccinations administered in Australia would be useful, according to a researcher from The University of Western Australia.

The AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, which are being used in Australia, have been associated with a very small number of adverse reactions.  However even though the numbers are low, recent reports of reactions have resulted in some community concern and hesitancy over vaccine uptake.

"The pandemic provides us with a window of opportunity, where the government could introduce a COVID-specific scheme, and potentially expand it to include other vaccinations"

Shevaun Drislane

UWA PhD researcher Shevaun Drislane from the School of Social Sciences said that having a no-fault vaccination compensation scheme similar to those already in place in countries such as the UK, US, New Zealand and Europe for recommended vaccines would provide compensation to those who experience serious side effects. It would also offer more reassurance for those concerned about getting a COVID vaccine.

In March the World Health Organisation supported this type of compensation when it collaborated to introduce an international COVID vaccine injury compensation scheme that applied to more than 90 low- to-middle income countries. The scheme is for individuals who have a serious reaction that goes beyond typical side effects expected from vaccines. These existing schemes could be replicated in Australia.

Ms Drislane said as Australians were being encouraged to have a COVID vaccine, it was only reasonable that there was a duty of care to protect those who had extreme reactions to the vaccine.

“No-fault compensation would support individuals who have serious side effects that are not due to negligence of a medical practitioner, and ideally this type of scheme should be in place for all recommended vaccines in Australia,” Ms Drislane said.

“The pandemic provides us with a window of opportunity, where the government could introduce a COVID-specific scheme, and potentially expand it to include other vaccinations.”

Ms Drislane said although the Federal Government had promised to indemnify vaccine manufacturers if individuals were to sue following an adverse reaction, there was still little information on how this would work.

“Similarly, for patients, the Medicare system in Australia supports health care needs, but doesn’t factor in compensation for extreme reactions, including the financial impact if people are unable to work while recovering from side effects,” she said.

“The National Disability Insurance Scheme also isn’t a suitable system to address all cases of vaccine harm, so we really need something specific that offers a solution in areas where Medicare and NDIS fall short.”

Media references

Jess Reid, UWA Media & PR Adviser, 08 6488 6876

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