Japan to pay families £295,000 if relative dies due to Covid vaccine

24 February 2021, 22:34 | Updated: 24 February 2021, 22:58

Japan will compensate the families of citizens who die as a result of getting a Covid jab
Japan will compensate the families of citizens who die as a result of getting a Covid jab. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The Japanese Government will pay families ¥44.2 million (£295,000) if a relative dies as a result of taking the coronavirus vaccine.

Families could also receive up to ¥209,000 (£1,400) to help cover funeral costs if a loved one dies due to being inoculated against Covid-19.

Japan's Ministry of Health has had a vaccine compensation scheme in place for some time for many diseases, not just coronavirus.

However, the legislation was only recently highlighted by Health Minister Norihisa Tamura, according to the country's Kyodo news agency.

Mr Norihisa also announced that families could be given an annual sum of more than ¥5 million (£33,800) if a relative sustains a long-term disability as a result of taking the jab.

Last August, the chairman of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Diet Affairs Committee, Hiroshi Moriyama, said he thought it would be "necessary" for legislation to protect pharmaceutical companies from liability against vaccine deaths.

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His comments came amid reports that the country was planning on exempting such firms from any responsibility in the event that someone's health is damaged as a result of being inoculated against Covid-19.

On the same day, a high-ranking official from the prime minister’s office said that it would be only natural for the government to submit legislation to protect companies from liability.

Japan is on a list of 19 countries across the globe that have vaccine compensation schemes, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Germany was the first nation to implement such measures when in 1953 its supreme court ruled that people who were injured by compulsory vaccination - at the time against smallpox - were entitled to compensation.

It then introduced a payback programme in 1961, followed by France later that decade.

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Japan's vaccine programme is yet to lift off at the same speed as other developed nations
Japan's vaccine programme is yet to lift off at the same speed as other developed nations. Picture: PA

In the 1970s, concerns over adverse events related to diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccination led to programmes being established in Austria, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, according to the WHO.

Similar measures were introduced in the 1980s in Taiwan, Finland, the US and Quebec in Canada, followed by Italy, Norway, and South Korea in the 1990s. Hungary, Iceland and Slovenia have since followed suit.

The source of funding for Japan's vaccine-injury compensation scheme comes from a mixture of national, state and municipal treasuries.

It is currently receiving a limited number of jabs due to supply issues, the country’s inoculations chief said.

Japan is prioritising shots for older citizens as it waits for more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech drug - its only approved vaccine.

"We would like to start vaccinations for the elderly in April, but unfortunately the number of doses allocated to them will be very limited at first, so we want to start slowly," the nation's administrative reform minister, Taro Kono, said.

In December, the UK Government said it would add Covid-19 to its Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme (VDPS), meaning those who suffer a severe disability as a result of a jab will be entitled to a one-off, tax-free lump sum of £120,000.

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