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Vaccine for COVID-19

Families repeat their call for a review of the vaccine damages redress scheme

A group of individuals and their families who have been affected by severe adverse reactions to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have repeated their call for a review of the Vaccine Damages Payment Scheme (VDPS) following a response to their open letter to Sajid Javid.

Posted on 27 August 2021

The group sent a letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care last month, asking for an urgent review of the VDPS and for the government provide more support to the small number of people who have suffered adverse effects from the covid vaccine.

In their response, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), who responded on behalf of the Secretary of State, thanked the families for raising their concerns and indicated that they are considering updating some operational aspects of the VDPS, to make the application process simpler, swifter and more accessible.

The families have welcomed these potential updates to the VDPS, but remain concerned that the proposed operational updates will not address the key flaws of the scheme. They have written again to the DHSC in order to reiterate their concerns, in the hope of getting a more detailed response in relation to the issues raised. They also ask that any changes to the VDPS are informed by a public consultation, to ensure that those affected by adverse reactions to vaccines, and their families, can have their say.

The main issues raised in their correspondence includes:

  • Payments under the scheme are inadequate to meet the needs of those who suffer injury;
    those who do not meet the 60 per cent disability threshold, but who suffer very significant disability, continue to remain entirely unaided
  • There does not appear to be any consultation process planned by the Department of Health regarding potential changes to the VDPS.

In their second latter to DHSC the group have again called for the Government to put in place a staged level of assistance to be provided to those who may have suffered disability which seriously impacts their ability to work and care for themselves.

They have again referred the Secretary of State and Government to Lady Cumberlege’s key recommendations made in “First Do No Harm: The report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review”, published on 8 July 2020. This included the establishment of a ‘no fault’ Redress Agency.

Zahra Nanji, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said:

“We continue to commend and recognise the incredible role that vaccines have had in fighting this pandemic, and continue to support the vaccination programme. However, we also consider, that should the worst occur, sufferers and their families should have a safety net when doing the right thing in taking the vaccine to not only protect themselves but the communities in which they live and work.

“My clients have again urged the Government to take this opportunity to implement the recommendation made by Lady Cumberlege in respect of establishment of appropriate no-fault redress scheme to address the potential harms caused by vaccines, medicines and medical devices. Such a scheme would allow the opportunity to deal with the very low incidence of harm in an non-adversarial and cost effective way.”