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Mar 04

How to get compensation for vaccine injury

Reading Time: 7 mins

Do you need compensation for a vaccine injury? More and more people are realising that they can get financial help if they suffered physical damage after having a vaccine.

At MoneyMagpie we want to be here for you when things go wrong. Life-altering situations can happen at any moment, so we wanted to share some information with you about vaccine injuries and the compensation you may be entitled to.

 

What is a Vaccine Injury?

A vaccine injury also known as a vaccine adverse event is a severe reaction caused by having a vaccination against disease.

These injuries can be related to the vaccine itself (product or quality defect-related reactions). To the process of receiving the vaccine – error or stress-related reactions. Injuries can also occur independently from the vaccination (coincidental) and are classified as:

  • Vaccine product-related reaction
  • Vaccine quality defect-related reaction
  • Immunization error-related reaction
  • Immunization anxiety-related reaction
  • Coincidental event

Most vaccine injuries are mild such as arm aches, sniffles and coughs. But on some rare occasions, they can be serious causing life-altering injuries.

 

what is the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme

The Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979 governs vaccines injuries in the UK and set up the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS).

  • The VDPS allows you to claim up to £120,000 if you become severely disabled as a result of vaccination against certain diseases.
  • You can still take further legal action even if you get a Vaccine Damage Payment.
  • You cannot claim for children under the age of two-years-old

 

What you’ll get from the vaccine damage payment scheme

The Vaccine Damage Payment is a one-off, tax-free payment of £120,000.

  • If you are above the age of 18 and can manage your own affairs it’ll be paid directly to you.
  • If you’re under 18 or you cannot manage your own affairs, the payment will be made to your trustees.
  • If you live with family, your parents may be appointed to be your trustees.

 

are you eligible for the vaccine damage payment scheme?

Patient in hospital bed

You could be eligible for a payment if you are severely disabled and the disability was caused by vaccination against one of these diseases:

  • coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • human papillomavirus
  • influenza, except for influenza caused by a pandemic influenza virus
  • measles
  • meningococcal group B (meningitis B)
  • meningococcal group C (meningitis C)
  • meningococcal group W (meningitis W)
  • mumps
  • pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 (swine flu) – up to 31 August 2010
  • pertussis (whooping cough)
  • pneumococcal infection
  • poliomyelitis
  • rotavirus
  • rubella (German measles)
  • smallpox – up to 1 August 1971
  • tetanus
  • tuberculosis (TB)

You may also be eligible for a payment if you’re severely disabled because either:

  • your mother was vaccinated against one of the diseases on the list while she was pregnant
  • you’ve been in close physical contact with someone who’s had an oral vaccine against poliomyelitis

It is also possible to apply for this payment on behalf of someone who has passed away after becoming disabled as a result of vaccination. But you must be managing their estate to do so.

What counts as ‘severely disabled?

The UK Government classifies ‘severe disablement’ as at least 60% disabled.

This could be physical or mental and will be based on medical evidence provided by your doctor.

If you are blind in one eye or deaf in one ear that is considered 50%.

When and where must the vaccination have occurred

In most circumstances, the vaccination must have happened before your 18th Birthday, unless it was during the outbreak of a disease. There are also exceptions if it was against:

  • coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • poliomyelitis
  • rubella
  • meningococcal group C
  • human papillomavirus
  • pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 (swine flu)
  • meningococcal group W before your 26th birthday
  • influenza

It is also worth noting that the vaccination must have taken place in the UK or the Isle of Man unless away with the armed forces.

 

How to claim for a vaccine injury

Claim button on keyboard

 

You can apply by filling in this form on the UK Government website.

You can apply on somebody else’s behalf if:

  • they’re under 16 and you are their parent or guardian
  • they have died and you manage their estate
  • they are not able to manage their own affairs and you act as their representative.

Time limits on making a claim

There are some time limits on making claims.

  • You can only claim for a child after they are 2 years old.

To claim for an adult, apply by the latest of following dates:

  • On or before their 21st birthday or if they passed away, the date they would have turned 21
  • Within 6 years of vaccination

It can take at least 6 months to process a Vaccine Damage Payment claim.

If the claim is related to the coronavirus vaccination it can take longer.

 

What to do if you’re unsuccessful in your claim

If your claim is unsuccessful in your claim you can ask for a ‘mandatory reversal.’

If the decision on your case was made after 27 October 2013, you can write to the VDPS. In your letter you must:

  • Explain why you think the decision is wrong
  • Include any new evidence to support your claim.
  • The date of the original discission
  • Your name, address and date of birth
  • Your national insurance number.

For claims made on or before 27th October 2013, contact the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme for advice on how to challenge the decision.

 

What happens after the appeal?

The original decision will be reviewed again, and you will be sent the outcome either way. You will find out the reasoning if the appeal is unsuccessful. If you still disagree you can apply for another mandatory reversal, the is no limit on how many times you can apply for it.

You can also appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal which is independent of the government. You can choose whether you want to attend to explain your case or whether they can just use the evidence submitted.  The appeal will be decided by a judge after a hearing with one or two experts. It will take around 6 months for your hearing to take place.

 

What is it really like to make a claim for vaccine damage?

Traditionally, it has not been easy. The reason we have the VDPS is because families in the 1960s had children damaged by the whooping cough (pertussis) or polio vaccine and campaigned for the scheme. Other vaccines that resulted in multiple claims are the measles mumps and rubella (MMR) the human papillomavirus (HPV) and the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.

It took Jackie Fletcher 17 years to receive £90,000 compensation for the severe brain damage caused to her son Robert by the MMR vaccine he received as a healthy toddler in 1992. Robert was unable to talk, stand unaided or feed himself. He suffered frequent epileptic fits and still requires care 24/7.

Mrs Fletcher’s first application to the VDPS was rejected. She was told the family could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Robert’s injuries were caused by the MMR. Mrs Fletcher appealed, and she was finally paid what she described as a ‘derisory’ sum in 2010.

Swine flu victims injured during the 2008 and 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic vaccination roll-out, had a similar struggle after they won their claims. The vaccine had been rushed through in the pandemic without the usual rigorous trials.

The main symptoms caused by the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), were the incurable neurological conditions narcolepsy (a condition that severely disrupts sleep patterns) and cataplexy (a sudden loss of muscle control leading to collapse) with the government forcing parents of injured children to return to court in what seemed like endless appeals.

MPs decided this was not right and complained, particularly as the government had again indemnified GSK against liability. Labour MP for Liverpool and West Derby, Stephen Twigg told the house in 2016: ‘Adjuvant vaccines have additional chemicals that speed up the body’s immune reaction to the antigen [swine flu virus], and it is considered that that sometimes increases the risk of adverse reactions.

‘The Department for Work and Pensions has accepted that the Pandemrix vaccine is capable of causing narcolepsy in children.’

Other MPs also criticised the slow response and pointed out that the government had indemnified GSK because there was a risk. They were right, so they should pay promptly.

Vaccine damage specialist, lawyer Peter Todd, a consultant to the firm Scott Moncrief, said: ‘Our whole system is pretty poor. In the US it’s much better. A levy on each vaccine sold is paid into a fund to compensate the injured.

‘The US scheme gives claimants the benefit of the doubt. Awards are based on a person’s total loss, or tort damages, so are much fairer.’

That means there is no limit on the amount you can claim and the highest award to date has been around $100million. In total, the US has paid out approximately £4billion in claims since 1989, while in the UK, we are paying a twentieth of the US rate. The VDPA has paid a total of £75,350,000 since 1979 and most of that amount was in the first few years to compensate whooping cough victims. If we were in line with the US, we would have awarded around £700million.

So far there are 920 claims lodged against the indemnified Covid vaccinations and so far, none have been paid. Peter Todd said: ‘The government is not supporting people who have suffered vaccine injury and the time has come to change that.’

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