Australia’s government could be forced to spend tens of millions in payouts after receiving more than 10,000 compensation claims from people who suffered side effects and loss of income due to Covid-19 vaccines.
Under its no-fault indemnity scheme, eligible claimants can apply for compensation amounts between AU$5,000 (US$3,646) to AU$20,000 (US$14,585) to cover medical costs and lost wages as a result of being hospitalized after getting the shot. The scheme’s online portal is scheduled to be launched next month.
Official figures suggest, however, that over 10,000 people have already indicated their intention to make a claim since registration opened on the health department’s website in September. If each claim was approved, the government could face a bill of at least AU$50 million (US$36.46 million).
There were around 78,880 adverse events to Covid-related vaccination in Australia as of November 7, according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which regulates national health products. The majority of side effects were minor, including headaches, nausea, and arm soreness.
Only people who experienced a moderate to significant adverse reaction that resulted in a hospital stay of at least one night are eligible for coverage under the government’s scheme. Those seeking $20,000 or less have to provide proof their claims are vaccine-related – although there has been no information as yet on exactly what evidence would be acceptable.
“Adverse events, even though they happen to a tiny proportion of people, for the people it does impact it’s really quite devastating,” Clare Eves, the head of medical negligence at injury compensation firm Shine Lawyers, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Among the adverse reactions covered are the blood clotting disorder “thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)” linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine and the “myocarditis and pericarditis” heart conditions associated with the Pfizer vaccine. Other reportedly accepted side effects are Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological condition, and immune thrombocytopenia (excessive bleeding due to low platelet levels).
Claims for over $20,000, including those for vaccine-related deaths, will be assessed by an independent legal panel of legal experts and compensation paid on its recommendations. Nine people have reportedly died after an adverse reaction to one of the three vaccines in the country.
Eves told the Morning Herald that her firm was representing a number of litigants over the vaccine side effects, including several who are not eligible for the scheme.
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