Thursday, December 20, 2012

Report on vaccine damage needs to be taken off the shelf and implemented

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) called for a 2009 Steering Group report on vaccinations, which dealt with the issue of a compensation scheme for vaccine damage, to be taken off the shelf and implemented. Deputy Doherty was speaking after officials from the Department of Health appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee.

“Speaking before the Oireachtas Health Committee today, Dr Kevin Kelliher from the Department of Health, who contributed to a 2001 report on the issue, said that a vaccine damage scheme should be an essential part of any State immunisation programme. And yet, despite this, the Department of Health has failed to make any significant progress on the implementation of such a scheme.

“In 2009, the Vaccine Damage Steering Group, convened by the Department of Health, published a report on vaccine damage compensation. It recommended that payments should range from €15,000 to €200,000 for those damaged by vaccines. It also said the State has a responsibility to look sympathetically at the very rare cases in which children suffer serious adverse reactions in State vaccine schemes.

“However, at today’s Health Committee, Department of Health officials displayed a complete lack of urgency on dealing with this issue. It is completely unacceptable that three years after the Steering Group report was published, no action has been taken.

“Vaccinations serve as an important plank of our public health system. By their very nature, vaccines are designed to help prevent a range of diseases. However, they are not without their risks, and it is well documented that a small minority of children have been affected by adverse reactions to State vaccination programmes. They should be compensated appropriately.

“This issue does not appear to be very high up the Department of Health’s priority list. We need action on two fronts; first, the recommendations from the 2009 Steering Group report must be implemented. And secondly, the State must ensure that a vaccine damage scheme is part and parcel of any further State vaccination programmes.”

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