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article imageIs it time for a global vaccine compensation scheme?

By Tim Sandle     Mar 5, 2017 in Health
With a new vaccine for Zika virus in development and a rise with the administration of vaccine in general, is it time to consider a global vaccine compensation scheme? This is in the event of an adverse response.
Scientists based at the University of Missouri-Columbia have proposed a global vaccine injury compensation system. The idea would be this to be overseen by the World Health Organization, with the aim of addressing the global public health issue of vaccine related injuries.
A vaccine injury is a rare event, and most vaccines are safe and fully tested before release. Vaccine injury trends to relate to unintended effects of an established and safe vaccine with a minority of people who are given the vaccine, rather than with a large number of people given a problematic or unsafe vaccine. With the latter regulatory safeguards are in place to prevent this from happening. The vaccine response refers to vaccine injuries. These range from minor immune responses such as hives to someone dying as a result of the vaccine. It is important to point out that vaccine injuries are very rare events. With tetanus, for instance, the injury rate is less than one per 10 million doses and a similar figure exists with vaccines against influenza.
Vaccines are increasingly common, and one estimate puts the number of doses administered per second as 30,000 (as a global figure). The aim of giving a vaccine is to provide active acquired immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism. This can be a weakened or killed form of a given microbe; or, alternatively, microbial toxins or a surface protein taken from the microorganism.
In many countries people are covered for such eventuates through health insurance schemes or by governments. In less economically advanced areas, however, no such schemes exist. To assist with the poorer regions of the world, Professor Sam Halabi, who specializes in law, has put forward the case for a global vaccine injury compensation system.
In a statement, the academic explains: “We know that vaccines are very safe and effective, but vaccine injury does occur. Who pays for those injured can become a point of contention. That's a life-and-death issue, especially when countries are amidst a public health crisis."
Professor Halabi is proposing a global "no-fault system" in which those who are harmed by properly manufactured vaccines are compensated from a centralized fund operated by the World Health Organization.
The argument is outlined in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in a paper titled “A Global Vaccine Injury Compensation System.”
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