The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has welcomed health minister Greg Hunt’s detailing of the new no-fault COVID-19 vaccine claim scheme.
The industry body has been advocating for no-fault indemnity for some time, stating it was needed to further support health professionals as they continue to vaccinate the Australian population against COVID-19.
There had been concern that as the vaccine program expanded, so would the legal risks for health professionals and related businesses involved, the ICA said.
“The COVID-19 mass vaccination program is a large and complex undertaking in a rapidly evolving environment,” said ICA CEO Andrew Hall.
“The ICA has been working with its members in the healthcare indemnity sector, government and other stakeholders — such as the Australian Medical Association, the Pharmacy Guild and the Australian Chamber of Commerce — to ensure that risks for professionals involved in the administration of the vaccine are identified and addressed.”
The scheme provides Australians with quick access to compensation for COVID-19 claims relating to the administration of a federally approved vaccine.
Any Australian that suffers injury and loss of income due to their COVID-19 vaccine will be able to claim cover for the costs of injuries over $5,000 from the federal government.
“Side effects, or adverse events, from COVID-19 vaccinations can occur, but most are mild and last no longer than a couple of days,” Minister Hunt said on the scheme’s rollout.
“Serious and life-threatening side effects are very rare, but it is important that we provide a safety net to support those affected.
“It also ensures that health professionals administering vaccines will be able to continue with their crucial role in the vaccine rollout with assurance that the claims scheme will offer them protection.”
The ICA has said that with health professionals and businesses better protected, they hope this development will encourage insurers and employers to facilitate workplace COVID-19 vaccine programs, similar to what is currently available for the flu.
“Many insurers are interested in facilitating workplace vaccine programs similar to the annual flu shot once they are able to access this via registered medical providers,” said Mr Hall.
“Today’s announcement assists in supporting workplace vaccination programs which will help bring the community closer to reaching vaccination threshold targets.”
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