Controversial provision in vaccine consent form raises public outcry
The government decision to reject any liability for side effects after administration of the Covid-19 vaccine has caused an uproar on social media after a screenshot of the draft vaccine consent form went viral.
The vaccine consent form developed by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) includes a provision that states neither the healthcare provider nor the government can be held liable if a recipient of the vaccine feels any sickness, injury or loss during or after vaccination.
Outraged netizens said the presence of such a provision would make them unwilling to take the vaccine.
Bangladesh will start a nationwide vaccination program from February 7, likely with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine procured from Serum Institute of India.
Side effects and consequences
The first 30 minutes after vaccination are crucial to detecting and countering any severe side effects.
Every person who receives a vaccine shot should be kept in observation for 30 mins and arrangements for treatment of severe side effects must be made at hospitals and health centres, the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 (NTAC) in Bangladesh suggested recently.
Most side effects of vaccines are minor, such as swelling, fever or headaches and pain. However, a small number of patients may suffer from severe side effects, such as anaphylaxis, if they have allergic reactions, according to health experts.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have advised the public not to get the inoculation if they are allergic to any of the ingredients in the Covid-19 vaccines, and to consult doctors before getting the shot if they have histories of allergic reactions.
Will there be any compensation?
Many countries in the world are offering compensation for any side effects after vaccination.
In India, those receiving Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will be provided with a medically recognized standard of care at government designated and authorized centres or hospitals in case of any adverse events in the post-vaccination period. The vaccine is still in the clinical trial run stage.
For serious adverse events, the company has promised to pay compensation if the effect is proven to be causally related to the vaccine, according to their vaccine consent form.
In Poland, the government intends to launch a compensation fund to support anyone experiencing negative side effects from taking the coronavirus vaccine, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said recently.
The Singapore government has announced the introduction of a vaccine injury financial assistance program to provide support for those experiencing serious side effects related to Covid-19 vaccines.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been undergoing trials in Brazil, where the company said it will not be responsible for any side effects, according to the Pfizer contract with the government.
When asked about the liability provision in the Bangladesh consent form, Dr Mohammod Robed Amin, line director of the National Centre for Disease Control at the DGHS, said the consent form included many provisions like those in consent forms that needed to be signed before surgeries at hospitals.
“We have developed vaccination centres in healthcare centres so that a person can be monitored for an hour after the shot is injected,” he told Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
The DGHS official assured that the government would provide medical facilities to anyone developing side effects, regardless of whether the side effects showed immediately or not.
He suggested that vaccine recipients call 16263 or telemedicine services if they felt any side effects.
“We will also keep one or two beds at every vaccination centre so that healthcare professionals can treat any patient who faces severe side effects like anaphylaxis,” added Amin.
He also urged the public not to panic because of misinformation or rumours centering on the vaccine.