Australia’s publicly-funded vaccine programme would benefit from safety monitoring and a no-fault compensation scheme, according to a group of medical experts.
Contributing to the Medical Journal of Australia, David Isaacs, Heath A Kelly and Clare Looker assert that while there are clear public health benefits to vaccination – immunisation programs have virtually eliminated smallpox and eradicated other conditions, including polio and measles, in many parts of the world – a small selection of people experience adverse effects as a result of vaccines.
While these can sometimes be attributed to medical negligence, usually there is no party who is clearly at fault.
And without someone to blame for the negligence, it is sometimes difficult to seek compensation through traditional legal means.
Isaacs, Looker and Kelly assert that in light of recent cases in Australia – including an investigation into an “unexpectedly high” number of children under the age of five who experienced febrile convulsions after receiving an influenza vaccine last year – the country should adopt a no-fault compensation scheme similar to the ones offered by 19 other nations.
New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, Japan, Norway and Italy are among those who have adopted compensation programs for individuals who have suffered as a result of mandatory vaccination programmes.
“No-fault vaccine-injury compensation programs are based on the premise that any adverse event attributable to vaccination is not due to the fault of a specific individual or organisation, but due to an unavoidable risk that is acknowledged as being associated with vaccines,” the writers explained.
However, setting up a no-fault scheme is not without complications – common concerns include the costs associated with setting up a program and what conditions, reactions and other adverse effects of vaccination will be covered.
Different countries, according to the World Health Organisation, have different strategies for addressing these problems.
France, for example, has a policy of only awarding compensation to individuals who have suffered “serious” adverse effects from immunisation.
If you believe you have been the victim of medical negligence due to a vaccination program – or for any other reason, such as failing to correctly diagnose an illness or warning a patient of the dangers of surgery – you may wish to speak to an experienced lawyer.
Claims for medical negligence can be part of a complicated area of law – and you may find that expert medical negligence lawyers who can be contacted over the phone or in person are an excellent first port of call.