Who’s liable for adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccinations?

Nov 2, 2021

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.

If you have any further questions about employer liability under the COVID-19 mandatory vaccination rollout, please do not hesitate to contact Heather Richardson, Isabella Royce or William Johnson of our employment law team.