I am pleased that the mediation process was successful in the recent case relating to the administration of the Pandemrix vaccine during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and that the parties have been able to come to a resolution without the necessity to continue with legal proceedings.
In October 2013, the Government approved (S180/46/01/0005B) the delegation to the State Claims Agency (SCA) of the management of claims in relation to individuals alleging the development of narcolepsy resulting from the administration of the pandemic vaccine. The management of the cases transferred to the SCA when the National Treasury Management Agency (Delegation of Claims Management Functions) (Amendment) Order 2013 (S.I. no 405 of 2013) was signed by the then Taoiseach on 15 October 2013. As such, I have no role as regards the conduct of this or future cases, including as regards the issue of costs relating to them.
However, 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" and work is progressing with regard to this. An Expert Group was established in June of last year, under Judge Meenan, to examine the law in relation to personal injuries arising in the healthcare context and to explore alternative mechanisms by which claims could be managed more effectively, particularly from the perspective of the person on whose behalf a claim has been made. A report from this Expert Group is expected in the coming weeks, the recommendations of which will be taken into account as part of the development of any possible vaccine compensation scheme.
In addition, the Health Research Board recently completed a review of the evidence on vaccine injury redress programmes in other jurisdictions and this report will also be considered in conjunction with the Expert Group’s recommendations.