Edelstein: Law should compensate for potential harm from corona vaccine

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Edelstein said that it behoves “the State of Israel to prepare in advance for the use of the vaccine against the coronavirus”

A medic of the regional hospital receives Russia's "Sputnik V" vaccine shot against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tver, Russia October 12, 2020.  (photo credit: REUTERS/TATYANA MAKEYEVA/FILE PHOTO)

A medic of the regional hospital receives Russia’s “Sputnik V” vaccine shot against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tver, Russia October 12, 2020.

(photo credit: REUTERS/TATYANA MAKEYEVA/FILE PHOTO)

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has asked that any approved coronavirus vaccine be covered under the Vaccine Victims’ Law, which would ensure compensation to anyone harmed by the vaccine.

In a letter to Justices Amir Dahan, Gad Ehrenberg and Karen Miller, Edelstein said that it behoves “the State of Israel to prepare in advance for the use of the vaccine against coronavirus” and that “in light of concerns arising from the accelerated development of vaccines,” Israel should take a clear stance on the importance of being vaccinated for public health.

At the same time, he wrote, the country must show “willingness to bear the consequences for any citizen who is, God forbid, harmed as a result of vaccination.”

The health minister added that “in these extraordinary and abnormal times, vaccine development is being carried out at an accelerated pace. The schedule of the clinical trial phases has been greatly reduced in order to allow for rapidly developed vaccines. As a result, many may fear receiving the vaccine, which would significantly limit the ability of the State of Israel to fight the virus.”

A survey by the Israel Democracy Institute published earlier this week showed that more than half of Israelis (52%) say they “think they would not” or are “convinced they would not” be vaccinated against coronavirus if a vaccine becomes widely available.

The Jerusalem Post reviewed the letter, which sparked a flurry of false headlines accusing the minister of trying to make vaccination against coronavirus mandatory for every citizen. Rather, his office explained, the minister hoped that adding the vaccine to the Vaccine Victims’ Law would encourage citizens to consider vaccination.

The goal, his spokesperson explained, is to get people vaccinated without fear that if something will happen to them – that if they would grow a tail – there would “be no one there to save them.” If the vaccine is added, then the state would provide compensation.

“By law, you cannot force anyone to take a vaccine,” his spokesperson stressed.

A page on the Health Ministry website explains that claims submitted under the provisions of the Vaccine Victims’ Insurance Law, which was enacted in 1989, are considered by a committee of experts whose objective is to determine the existence of a causal relationship between the vaccine and the injury. If this is proven, the level of incapacity is then determined and the person is compensated by the National Insurance Institute.

“The vaccine is important, but a law that makes vaccination compulsory is contrary to the ethics of Israeli doctors,” said Zion Hagay, chairman of the Israel Medical Association. “We are opposed to coercion but support giving incentives to vaccinators.”

A statement by the association said that the growing discourse around the vaccines and their efficacy has produced a “misleading” and “dangerous” sentiment that the end of coronavirus is around the corner.

“We call on the public to exercise extra caution due to an increase in the coefficient of infection so that we can avoid a third lockdown,” the statement said.

Hagay added the public is not as familiar as the experts with the “details and fine print” and they are susceptible to hearing rhetoric that is “overly optimistic.”

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