Australians who endure a significant adverse reaction to their COVID-19 vaccine and lose work as a result will be covered by a new government compensation scheme from next Monday.
“From 6 September, Australians who suffer injury and loss of income due to their COVID-19 vaccine will be able to register their intent to claim from the COVID-19 vaccine claims scheme ,” said a statement from Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office.
The scheme will be run by Services Australia, which also runs Centrelink payments. Claims of adverse reactions will be assessed by “independent experts”.
Compensation will then be based on the experts’ recommendations.
Most side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are mild and usually only last a few days, Hunt said.
“Serious and life-threatening side effects are very rare, but it is important that we provide a safety net to support those affected,” he said.
“It also ensures that health professionals administering vaccines will be able to continue with their crucial role in the vaccine roll out with assurance that the claims scheme will offer them protection.”
The compensation payments will be fully funded by the Federal Government and will be backdated to February 2021.
The statement from Hunt’s office said the scheme was designed to give Australians a “single front door” to easily and quickly resolve compensation claims rather than going through a complex and expensive court process.
If you suffered a particularly strong reaction to the COVID-19, report it to your doctor, who will provide information to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
In earlier months, hesitancy about the AstraZeneca vaccine over links to a “very rare but serious side effect” of blood clots were leading some GPs to refusing to offer it to some people under 50 until the Government made clear where the legal liability lay if patients developed serious side effects.
Though the chance of this occurring is described by the Department of Health as “very low” (4-6 vaccinated people per million), the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation for adults under 60 years old.
But the group has also “strongly urged” Australians to consider any available vaccine, including AstraZeneca, arguing that its benefits far outweigh the risks of the extremely rare side effects.