173. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if the urgent introduction of a no-fault vaccine payment scheme for persons debilitated by narcolepsy as a result of being vaccinated with the drug Pandemrix will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20525/18 asked on 10 May 2018)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to “… put in place a scheme, on a no-fault basis, that will respond to the needs of people with disability arising from vaccination.” The policy objectives in putting in place a scheme to meet the needs of people with disability arising from vaccination are to provide fair and just compensation for those who may have been injured by a vaccine, to reduce the costs to the State by providing an alternative to litigation and to maintaining public confidence in immunisation. This matter is under consideration by the Department with a view to developing a proposal regarding a vaccine damage scheme based on evidence concerning, vaccine damage schemes, legal advices and consultation with other Government bodies.

The Department of Health, the HSE, and the Department of Education and Skills continue to work together to provide a wide range of services and supports for those who have received a diagnosis of narcolepsy following administration of the H1N1 pandemic vaccine.  These supports include discretionary medical cards, reimbursement of expenses associated with diagnosis and treatment, home tuition and learning supports.  The HSE’s Advocacy Unit acts as liaison with service and support providers and other Government Departments to facilitate access to required services.