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Blog | Pavel Doubek

Czech Republic on its way to establish a compensation scheme for vaccine-related injuries

Current vaccine compensation schemes in the world: Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2011;89:371-378. doi:10.2471/BLT.10.081901

Although the Czech Constitutional Court, NGOs and legal scholars have repeatedly urged the Czech authorities to take appropriate steps towards the adoption of the law on compensation for vaccine-related injuries caused by mandatory child vaccination, for a long time there has been no appropriate response.

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That “silent period” is going to be challenged soon, as the Ministry of Health is currently drafting a new legislation that seeks to provide fair compensation to parents whose children suffer from the injury that links to mandatory vaccination (Infarix Hexa and MMR vaccine). The idea behind the law is that if the whole community benefits from the mandatory vaccination, a state should also bear the responsibility for those who experience an adverse reaction to it.

Today, the injured person has to initiate a civil lawsuit and argue that due to the breach of a duty of care of health care practitioner or vaccine defect, he or she suffers an injury. However, to bear the burden of proof has proven to be tricky or impossible in most of the cases since the applicant is usually not able to show the causal link between the defective vaccine or wrongful vaccine administration and the incurred harm.

Thus, the idea governing the present bill is based on the no-fault conception explaining that the state bears objective responsibility for vaccine-related injuries unless it is convincingly proved that the harm was not caused by vaccination. Such a model is common in most of the countries that have adopted similar compensation laws, for example, well-established US Vaccine Injury Compensation Scheme.

The need for the compensation scheme is not justified only with the need to provide a fair compensation but has also constitutional ratio with respect to establishing a fair balance between the individual right to physical integrity and public interest (public health). Further, the studies elaborated in several countries show that no-fault compensation schemes have also been justified by fostering the public confidence in immunization, weakening mass anti-immunization campaigns and vaccine manufacturer´s protection from civil litigation.

The Ministry of Health should lay the bill before the Czech Government till December 31 this year and then the parliamentary debate will be launched. Let´s hope that the unique and highly desirable law will pass successfully all procedural obstacles and will be adopted in the shortest possible time.

More info in Czech language: http://www.rozalio.cz/nase-projekty/legislativni-zmeny-v-systemu-ockovani/1180-rozalio-navrhuje-prepsat-takrka-cely-navrh-zakona-o-odskodneni-mame-26-pripominek

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