How to make a Vaccine Damage Payment claim
If an individual has been severely injured as a result of a vaccine's side effects, they could be entitled to a statutory payment. This payment is made regardless of whether the party supplying the vaccine was at fault.
The Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS) provides a lump sum, tax-free payment of £120,000 to people who have suffered severe disablement as a result of immunisation against certain diseases. The Scheme also covers individuals who are disabled in utero because their mother was immunised against one of the specified diseases during pregnancy.
The statutory award is not compensation but it is designed to ease the financial burden placed on the vaccine-damaged person and their family.
Who is eligible under the Scheme?
You could be eligible to receive a payment if you have suffered severe mental and/or physical disablement and your disability was caused by immunisation against any of the following diseases:
- Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB)
- Meningitis C
- Whooping cough
- Pneumococcal infection
- Rubella (German measles)
- Human papillomavirus
- Influenza, except influenza caused by a pandemic influenza virus
- Smallpox (prior to 1 August 1971)
- H1N1 2009 (swine flu) (prior to 31 August 2010).
Assessment of disability
The assessment of disability under the scheme follows the same principles as those laid out in the Industrial Injuries Disablement Scheme.
Under this scheme, 'severe' or '60%' disablement is considered to equate to a range of circumstances, such as the loss of function of one hand or paralysis of the leg.
The percentage disablement will be determined by a medical adviser acting on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. The medical adviser considers whether, on balance of probability, the injuries are the result of the vaccination, and the percentage level of disablement.
If a claim is disallowed, you can ask the Department for Work and Pensions to reconsider the case, providing an explanation of why you think the decision was wrong.
If you are still not happy with the decision, a formal appeal may be made to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.
Other rules regarding eligibility
Under the Scheme rules, a person can only receive payment if:
- The vaccine was delivered before their 18th birthday, unless the vaccination was against polio, rubella, HPV, Meningitis C or swine flu. There is no upper age limit for immunisations against the specified diseases during an outbreak within the UK or the Isle of Man.
- The vaccination was given in the UK or the Isle of Man or as part of the Armed Forces medical services.
Time limit for making a claim
The claim must be made within six years of the date of immunisation, or by the disabled person's 21st birthday, whichever is the later. If the person has died their family can make a claim by the date on which the person would have reached 21 years of age.
You can only claim for a child once they reach 2 years old. Injuries that occur prior to the age of 2 are not covered by the Scheme.
How to claim
Claim forms are available from the Vaccine Damage Payment website, which specifies where the completed claim form should be sent.
In theory, a solicitor is not needed to make the claim. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you make the strongest possible case to give the best chance of the claim being accepted.
A payment under the scheme can affect other benefits such as Income Support and Child Tax Credit. There may be ways to safeguard benefit entitlement, such as putting the payment into a trust.
A solicitor can help structure the payment in the most beneficial way having regard to immediate and future needs.