Call for vaccine fund
By Julie Robotham
May 27, 2004
Source: The Age
Children injured permanently by routine immunisations should receive automatic compensation from the Federal Government instead of having to sue, leading doctors and medical groups say.
David Isaacs, an immunology and infectious diseases specialist at the Children's Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, has asked the Government to set up a fund for "no fault" payments to the one or two children annually whose injuries were caused by vaccines. In rare cases, immunisation can result in seizures leading to brain damage.
Professor Isaacs said countries including Britain, the US and New Zealand had "no-fault" schemes. He said litigation was not appropriate for vaccine-damaged babies because injury occurred unpredictably, meaning it was hard to show negligence.
"Society expects children and adults to be immunised . . . it is only fair and just that society, in the form of national government, should compensate families or individuals when vaccine injury occurs through nobody's fault," Professor Isaacs wrote in this month's issue of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.
He said money could come from Treasury or a levy on manufacturers. An alternative was New Zealand's approach of including vaccine injuries in its work-related, vehicle accident compensation scheme.