Government to add COVID-19 to Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme
The government is taking this precautionary step in advance of a rollout of an authorised COVID-19 vaccine and in line with other immunisation programmes.
- COVID-19 vaccines will only be deployed once they meet strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality and are approved for use by the regulator
- No safety concerns have been reported in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines authorised for use
- Addition of COVID-19 a responsible step and standard process to further prepare for safe roll out
In advance of a rollout of an authorised COVID-19 vaccine and in line with other immunisation programmes, the government is taking the precautionary step to ensure that, in the very rare possibility where someone is severely disabled as a result of taking a COVID-19 vaccine, they can access financial assistance through the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme (VDPS).
No safety concerns have been reported in vaccines authorised for use following rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people and extensive analysis of the vaccine’s safety, quality and effectiveness by experts from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is now the first COVID-19 vaccine to be authorised for use in the UK, and the MHRA will keep safety under continual review.
Adding diseases to the VDPS is not new and numerous diseases have been added as successive governments have rolled out more immunisation programmes, such as HPV and Meningitis B. In response to the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, the previous government added swine flu to the VDPS on 10 October 2009.
Generally, only those who were administered vaccines as part of a childhood immunisation programme are covered under the VDPS. However, because COVID-19 vaccines will be rolled out to a large proportion of the adult population, the government will amend the eligibility requirements, ensuring adults who are administered a COVID-19 vaccine in the UK or Isle of Man, or as part of an armed forces medical treatment, will be covered by the scheme too.
This is not a novel approach. Currently, polio, rubella, meningococcal group C, HPV and meningococcal group W (up to age 26) are also exempt from the age requirement, as these vaccines were primarily offered to adults.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said:
We are extremely confident in the effectiveness and safety of our immunisation programmes. We will not be rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine unless it has met robust standards of safety, effectiveness and quality and authorised for use by the medicines regulator, the MHRA.
The UK has one of the most comprehensive immunisation programmes in the world, and sensible routine precautions such as these form a huge part of our global-leading standards in safety.
The VDPS is a safety net to help ease the burden on individuals who have in extremely rare circumstances experienced harm due to receiving a government-recommended vaccine. It is not a compensation scheme. Rather, it provides a one-off, tax-free lump sum – currently £120,000 – for those suffering a severe disability as a result of a vaccine against a disease listed under the Vaccine Damage Payments Act.
You could get a payment if you’re severely disabled and your disability was caused by vaccination against any of the following diseases:
- haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB)
- human papillomavirus
- influenza, except for influenza caused by a pandemic influenza virus
- meningococcal group B (meningitis B)
- meningococcal group C (meningitis C)
- meningococcal group W (meningitis W)
- pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 (swine flu) – up to 31 August 2010
- pertussis (whooping cough)
- pneumococcal infection
- rubella (German measles)
- smallpox – up to 1 August 1971
- tuberculosis (TB)
You may have had a combined vaccination against a number of the diseases listed. For example, you might have been vaccinated against DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) or MMR (measles, mumps and rubella).
You may also be able to get a payment if you’re severely disabled because either:
- your mother was vaccinated against one of the diseases in the list while she was pregnant
- you’ve been in close physical contact with someone who’s had an oral vaccine against poliomyelitis
What counts as ‘severely disabled’
Disablement is worked out as a percentage, and ‘severe disablement’ means at least 60% disabled.
This could be a mental or physical disablement and will be based on medical evidence from the doctors or hospitals involved in your treatment.
When and where the vaccination must have taken place
You must normally have been vaccinated before your 18th birthday, unless the vaccination was during an outbreak of disease in the UK or the Isle of Man, or it was against:
- meningococcal group C
- human papillomavirus
- pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 (swine flu)
- meningococcal group W before your 26th birthday
The vaccination must have been given in the UK or the Isle of Man, unless you were vaccinated as part of your armed forces medical treatment.
Information correct at time of publishing. Source: Department of Health and Social Care