News

Time for no-fault vaccination compensation


27 March 2012

David Isaacs, Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Sydney, has called for the introduction of compensation for those who suffer a serious adverse reaction to vaccination.

"Australia is proud of its principle of giving people a 'fair go'. It seems only fair someone injured by a vaccine which has been offered and accepted in good faith to benefit the community should be compensated by that community," said Professor Isaacs.

"It's certainly a better solution than having people not immunise their children and so expose the whole community to a virus."

Professor Isaacs' suggestion follows an international seminar at the University of Sydney held yesterday in which Marie Bismark, a researcher in public health originally from New Zealand, described the successful operation of no-fault compensation schemes in her country.

There was unanimous support for such a scheme from all attendees.

"In fact 19 countries around the world have accepted that society owes a duty of care, or gratitude, to the very few individuals damaged by a vaccine and have introduced no-fault vaccine compensation schemes. Germany has had such a scheme for 50 years; the United States, Britain and most other European countries all have compensation schemes in place.

"Serious adverse events are much more common as an outcome of a natural disease but in those very rare cases where they are a result of a vaccine compensation should be available," Professor Isaacs said.

"Is it fair that a family suffers because their child was inadvertently injured, through nobody's fault, by a vaccine sanctioned and paid for by the Australian community?"

Overseas schemes cost relatively little and are funded by one of four methods:

  • a vaccine tax
  • special funding for the scheme from general taxes
  • industry contribution
  • compensation as part of a broader national compensation scheme

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