Vaccine Damage Payments

30 April 2021

If an individual suffers severe mental and/or physical disability after receiving a vaccination against a specified disease, they may claim a one-off compensation payment of £120,000 under the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979.

Entitlement to compensation under this state funded scheme is determined by the applicant demonstrating that they meet the test of 'severe disablement'. This is defined as 60% disablement and requires the applicant's treating clinicians to produce evidence in support of the application. The severe disablement must have been caused by a vaccination given in the United Kingdom.

The threshold of at least 60% disability to quality as severe disablement under the VDPA 1979 is very high, not least because the legislation specifies how disablement should be assessed, meaning that only the most extreme cases are likely to lead to recovery of compensation.

Claims can be made where a vaccine given to an applicant's mother before they were born caused them severe disablement, and where individuals acquired the disease from someone who was vaccinated against it. Claims can also be made by the personal representatives of a deceased person provided that as a result of a vaccination they were severely disabled immediately prior to their death.

The time limit to make an application is the later of six years from the date of vaccination or the date on which the applicant reaches the age of 21.

Since 31 December 2020 the Act has covered anyone suffering severe disablement after receiving a coronavirus vaccination. Whilst take up of the vaccine is high, recent news stories about the very low incidence of extreme adverse side effects, and the temporary suspension of the administration of some vaccines, may have impacted confidence. The VDPA 1979 means that compensation is available to those who suffer 'severe disablement' after receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

Under the Vaccine Damage Payments (Specified Disease) (Amendment) Order 2021 (SI 2021/508), which comes into effect on 25 May 2021, a person who was aged 18 or over at the time the vaccination was carried out may now be entitled to a payment in respect of damage resulting from a vaccination against influenza, other than influenza caused by a pandemic influenza virus. In such cases the vaccination must have been carried out on or after 24 May 2015 if the recipient was aged 18 or over at the time, or on or after 01 September 2013 if they were under 18 at the time.

The level of compensation available under the scheme is significantly lower than that which could be claimed in a successful medical negligence claim where general damages are assessed with reference to the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases. By way of example, the 15th Edition provides that general damages for total deafness or blindness will fall between £344,640 and £379,100 which is much higher than the £120,000 that can be claimed under the Act. It is therefore advisable for anyone who has suffered an adverse reaction following a vaccination to seek legal advice on any potential claim.

If you wish to discuss a potential clinical negligence claim with our specialist solicitors you can contact us through our online enquiry form, free phone on 0800 008 7450, call our mobile friendly number 0333 2400340 or text "CURTIS" to 82727.