Civic groups Taiwan Women’s Link and Taiwan Association for Human Rights yesterday criticized the Ministry of Health and Welfare for amending regulations on vaccine injury compensation in February, saying that it significantly passes on the risk of adverse reactions to vaccine recipients.
The ministry on Feb. 18 promulgated amendments to the Regulations Governing Collection and Review of Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund (預防接種受害救濟基金徵收及審議辦法).
Among the amended articles is Article 13, which defines how the vaccine injury compensation working group assesses and classifies the causal relationship between vaccination and an alleged injury.
The relationship is classified into three categories — “unassociated,” “associated” and “indeterminate” — and one of the conditions that is assessed as “unassociated” is “medical evidence shows no causality.”
Taiwan Women’s Link founder and chairperson Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said the amendment added the phrase “medical evidence does not support causality” into the conditions for assessing an “unassociated” causal relationship, which would pass on the risk of adverse reactions to vaccine recipients.
She said vaccination is an important tool to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic, but many people are concerned that the AstraZeneca vaccine might cause blood clotting.
However, according to the amended article, the vaccine injury compensation working group might deem such cases as “unassociated,” as there is not enough scientific evidence to support a causal relationship, she said, adding that people’s right to vaccine injury relief would be greatly limited due to the amendment.
Academia Sinica Information Law Center director Chiou Wen-tsong (邱文聰) said that the phrase “medical evidence does not support causality” only means that current medical studies have not proven a causal relationship, but is not equal to having “no causal relationship.”
When vaccines are being administered under emergency use authorization, there might only be limited knowledge about their adverse effects, but if vaccine recipients have to bear the risk of adverse events, vaccine makers or the government would not have any incentive to further explore causal relationships between adverse events and vaccination, he said.
The groups urged the ministry to reconsider the amendment so that people can be better protected by the vaccine injury compensation program, which would increase their willingness to get vaccinated.
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