Who foots bill for post-Covid-19 vaccine complications?

There is no provision of insurance for Covid-19 vaccine recipients against side effects or medical complications
Last Updated 15 February 2021, 02:49 IST

There is no provision of insurance for Covid-19 vaccine recipients against side effects or medical complications. But adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) cases are provided free treatment in public health facilities, said Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS for Health, in Parliament recently. Since January 16, there have been 15 serious AEFIs in the state. But two cases of health workers admitted to ICU, post-vaccination, in Karnataka show contrasting realities when it comes to paying for treatment.

A 35-year-old vaccinated anganwadi worker from Thirthahalli, Shivamogga, is on ventilator in Kasturba Hospital, Manipal, and requires Rs 2.5 lakh for immunoglobulins for treatment. Though initially, it is suggested that this is coincidental, the state is covering the cost under the National Free Drugs Scheme.

But another vaccinated 23-year-old nurse in Kalaburagi is paying for her medicines on her eighth day in ICU. She is dependent on the largesse of the hospital she works at, for waiving ICU charges.

Dr Prabhuling Mankar, district immunisation officer, Kalaburagi, told DH, “The state is not paying for the treatment as of now. The hospital or family is.”

The nurse’s brother said, “Initially, the hospital asked us to pay for the medicines while they waived of the bed charges as she works there. Today, they agreed to pay for medicines too. So far, we have paid Rs 6,000 for MRI.”

On the other hand, Dr Rajesh Suragihalli, district health officer, Shivamogga, told DH, “Every 10 to 12 hours she (the anganwadi worker) requires a high-risk steroid. This amounts to three doses.”

“Since she is an anganwadi worker who has worked during Covid pandemic, the government will provide the immunoglobulins under the National Free Drugs Scheme and ICU charges under Jyothi Sanjeevini scheme as she did not have BPL or APL card to avail benefits under Ayushman Bharat-Arogya Karnataka,” he said.

Dr Sudha Vidyasagar, HoD, medicine, Kasturba Hospital, Manipal, who is treating the woman suffering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves, said, “the patient is improving and we’re gradually reducing ventilator support. Two days ago, she was breathless and was admitted in ICU. Guillain-Barre Syndrome can happen for a variety of reasons, including vaccination.”

“In 40 years of my practice, I have seen people getting GB syndrome from some other vaccination. But the most common thing precipitating this are small infections like cold, cough and diarrhoea. We can neither completely rule out vaccination as a cause (since it is one of the reasons listed) nor can we say it is because of vaccination. It is rare,” she said.

(Published 14 February 2021, 15:48 IST)

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