Families of people who died after taking Covid vaccine ‘ignored’ as zero compensation payouts made

More than 1,200 claims have been made to the government’s Vaccines Damages Payment Scheme, but no compensation has yet to be paid out

Samuel Lovett
Senior News Correspondent
Saturday 30 April 2022 14:28 BST
Vikki Spit with her partner Zion, who died after suffering a rare but severe reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine
Vikki Spit with her partner Zion, who died after suffering a rare but severe reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine (Vikki Spit)

Families with loved ones who died or suffered severe side effects after receiving the Covid vaccine say they are being “ignored”.

More than 1,200 claims have been made to the Vaccines Damages Payment Scheme (VDPS), which entitles successful applicants to up to £120,000 if a causal link between vaccination and severe reaction, culminating in injury or death, is proven.

But to date, the government is yet to pay out any form of compensation for affected individuals.

Some applicants have been waiting nearly a year, despite families having medical certificates confirming that vaccination was responsible for the death of their loved ones.

The government says that the average claim to the VDPS should take “around six months” to investigate and process.

Sarah Moore, a lawyer who represents 95 families seeking claims, said her clients felt “silenced and ignored,” adding that they cannot speak about vaccine-linked injuries as to do so risks accusations of being anti-vax.

“For this reason they cannot even grieve in the normal way,” she told The Independent.

Vikki Spit, whose partner Zion died at the age of 48 following a rare but severe reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine, said she and other affected families waiting for support had been “ignored entirely”, ridiculed and called liars.

Ms Spit said the issue had been ‘swept under the rug’ (Vikki Spit)

Ms Spit said she had been accused of jumping on the anti-vax campaign but insisted: “Zion did the right thing and now he and the others are being swept under the rug, not discussed.”

The Covid vaccines have been proven to be extremely safe and effective, saving hundreds of thousands of lives, but as with any medicine used by millions of people, rare side effects are to be expected.

These can range from the extremely rare blood clots detected in some recipients of the AstraZeneca jab – a link that has been acknowledged by Britain’s medicines regulator – to other conditions, such as myocarditis, or heart inflammation, triggered by the Pfizer vaccine.

Of the tens of millions of people vaccinated against Covid in the UK, 79 have died as a result of the rare blood clotting disorder triggered by the AstraZeneca jab, which is no longer being rolled out in Britain.

A total of 440 people have been affected by blood clotting linked to the vaccine, according to the UK’s medicines regulator.

Ms Moore said it was vital the government financially supports the small minority of people who, in exceptional circumstances, have been harmed by vaccination or even died.

“The government’s Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme was created to acknowledge the losses suffered by families affected and provide some financial support,” she said.

“Yet, a year on from their initial applications, none of the families with whom we are working have received any VDPS payments.

Martin Brighty suffered rare blood clotting after being vaccinated against Covid-19 (Martin Brighty)

“Instead, they remain embattled with the VDPS, whilst also coming to terms with grief and in some cases new caring responsibilities.”

The government has acknowledged that there is “increasing” scientific evidence “that supports an association between the Covid vaccines and some extremely rare and limited adverse effects”.

As a result of this evidence, officials are “now in a position to begin progressing existing” claims, according to a letter sent by NHS Business Service Authority to a claimant on 15 February 2022.

It’s understood the government has contracted Crawford & Co, a claims management company, to begin processing applications. The first assessment is to begin in the week commencing 16 May.

But Ms Moore said the VDPS was moving far too slowly and that the majority of her clients had been waiting “well over” six months for compensation after first making a claim.

One of her families submitted an application more than 50 weeks ago. In an email received on Tuesday, the family was told by a VDPS caseworker that “we are unable provide an accurate timescale for when [the] claim is likely to reach a conclusion, for which I apologise. We currently anticipate that this is likely to take up to 12 weeks.”

Ms Moore’s clients are a mixture of people who suffered rare severe side effects from the Covid jabs and families whose loved ones died following vaccination.

A very small proportion of people given a Covid vaccine suffered severe side effects (Associated Press)

Ten of her clients have received a final or interim death certificate that concludes vaccination was responsible for the death of their relative or partner. Five of these submitted their application more than six months ago, Ms Moore said.

In another case, prime minister Boris Johnson personally wrote to a claimant promising his help – yet nothing has come of this offer, Ms Moore said.

As of 25 March 2022, a total of 1,210 claims relating to the Covid vaccines had been made to the VDPS, data show. Typically, just 80 claims a year are made to the VDPS, The Independent understands.

To qualify for a payment under the VDPS, claimants must show their disablement was caused by vaccination and that the resulting injury is “severe” – rendering them at least 60 per cent disabled or more according to the Department for Work and Pensions’ Industrial Injuries scale.

Applicants are requested to provide medical records and proof of hospital appointments related to their condition.

However, families previously told The Independent that the VDPS is outdated, “solely paper-based form in a world of technology,” and has not been updated to take into account the Covid vaccines.

Ms Moore also said there are not enough case workers to help support families, many of whom are grieving, and respond to enquiries.

Ms Spit said she had “received no help” while applying to the VDPS after she lost her partner, whose death was caused by vaccination, as confirmed by a coroner. “I’ve had multiple cut-and-paste answers to my questions, but very few actual answers,” she said.

“My faith in the system is pretty much gone. Emotionally, mentally, physically, I continue to suffer. The way we’ve been repeatedly fobbed off has massively added to this, on top of the unimaginable toll of losing Zion after 21 years so suddenly.”

Martin Brighty, who suffered rare blood clotting after vaccination, said he been “abandoned” and “betrayed” by the government.

“We are not anti-vaccine, we went when asked for the benefit of society as a whole only to be left bereaved or disabled and then ignored. The whole of the government is clearly too scared to even acknowledge us and our suffering.”

Lord Philip Hunt, a Labour peer and one of the few politicians to have raised the issue in parliament, said “the current system is out of date and slow to respond”.

“The government needs to review it and ensure the affected families and individuals receive their payments as swiftly as possible,” he added. “It is in the public interest that if people are damaged by the vaccine, to provide them with support.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are working through claims made through the VDPS as quickly as possible, and the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has a team of caseworkers dedicated to keeping claimants updated.

“NHSBSA has also contracted a supplier to specifically review medical assessments in order to provide outcomes for claimants as quickly as possible, but can only do so once they have received full medical records for the claimant, which can take time.”

The government said all vaccines being used in the UK met the MHRA’s “strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.”

To date, more than 140 million Covid vaccinations have been rolled out in Britain.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in