Written answers

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Department of Health

Vaccination Programme

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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197. To ask the Minister for Health the engagement his Department has had with the Department of Justice and the HSE to ensure the booster vaccine roll-out includes the prison population given the nature of the congregated setting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57788/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
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198. To ask the Minister for Health if he plans to introduce a redress scheme to support healthcare staff who have suffered adverse reactions following vaccination or who have suffered from Covid-19 and who have been left unable to work; the avenues of support that are available to such staff; the number of staff that have been redeployed to other services due to being unable to carry out their usual duties due to health concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57796/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy may wish to note that Health Products Regulation Authority (HPRA) closely monitors reported adverse reactions. In its most recent vaccine safety update (published 4th November) it noted that, whilst not experienced by everyone, all vaccines have some side effects, the vast majority of which are mild to moderate in nature. These side effects need to be continuously balanced against the benefits in preventing COVID-19 illness. Overall, the national reporting experience continues to support the favourable assessment that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines massively outweigh the risks. This, of course, does not detract from any adverse reaction individuals may experience but does provide assurance that the vaccines are safe and that we should continue to have confidence in them.

Supports for Healthcare Workers

The Deputy is advised that work is ongoing with respect to the development of a scheme to benefit the families of frontline healthcare workers who died from COVID-19, where it is likely that they contracted the virus in work. A proposal will be brought to Government in respect of the scheme shortly. Details of the scheme will be made available once it has been approved by Government.

Details of the occupational health supports available for those healthcare workers who have been unable to work due an adverse reaction following vaccination or longer-term health issue related to COVID-19 infection, are a matter for the HSE. The HSE have been asked to respond directly to you on these matters.

Broader Vaccine Compensation Scheme

In June 2018, the Government agreed to the establishment of the expert group to review the management of clinical negligence claims. It was chaired by the High Court judge, Mr. Justice Charles Meenan. The expert group examined the system from the perspective of the person who has made the claim to explore if there is a better way to deal effectively, yet more sensitively, with certain cases.

Mr. Justice Meenan submitted the final report on the current system for managing clinical negligence claims to the then Minister for Health and Minister for Justice in January 2020, prior to the onset of the Covid pandemic. The Government subsequently published the Meenan report in December 2020. One of the report's recommendations is that a compensation scheme be established.

On foot of a request from my Department, the Health Research Board, HRB, carried out an evidence review on the vaccine injury redress programme in other jurisdictions, which was completed in March 2019. The expert group's report, in addition to the HRB's evidence review, and consultation with other Departments and relevant State agencies will inform the development of proposals regarding the establishment of a compensation scheme, including the need for primary legislation, and work to advance policy development in this regard is under way in the Department.

Finally, there are no plans at present for the introduction in Ireland of a COVID-19 specific vaccine compensation scheme.


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