With COVID-19 mandatory vaccination directions sweeping across Australia, one important question remains a constant:
Who’s liable if someone has an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine while mandatory directions are enforced?
No Fault COVID-19 Indemnity Scheme
On 28 August 2021, the Federal Government announced the No Fault COVID-19 Indemnity Scheme.
The Scheme is intended to compensate individuals who suffer adverse reactions from COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and delivered by Government-approved programs.
The flow-on effect may protect employers engaged in workplace vaccination programs and health care workers involved in the vaccine rollout from unnecessary litigation.
From 6 September 2021, eligible claimants who suffer injury and loss of income from COVID-19 vaccines can register their intent to lodge a claim. After registering an intent, claimants will need to ensure that they meet the relevant criteria (pending future release) and provide evidence to support their claim – registering intent will not give rise to an automatic right to compensation.
The Scheme will be backdated to February 2021.
Proven adverse reactions causing injury costs above $5,000 may receive compensation based on independent expert assessment. For claims:
- $5,000 – $20,000 – Claimants need to have been hospitalised for at least one night.
- $20,000 or above – Claimants will be advised as part of additional information on the Scheme in the future.
Claims for less than $5,000 are not currently eligible. This is because the Scheme is intended to reimburse people who suffer a moderate to significant impact following an adverse reaction (and not, for example, a mild headache).
While the procedural details of the Scheme have not been released, it stands to address several liability concerns associated with the mandatory vaccination directions.