Poland has so far paid out 700,000 zloty (€151,000) in compensation to 40 people who have suffered side effects from receiving COVID-19 vaccines, with the highest single payout amounting to 87,000 zloty (€18,800). Hundreds more claims are currently being processed.
At the end of 2020, when Poland and other EU countries had just begun rolling out the vaccines, the Polish government announced that it would set up a fund to compensate anyone who suffered negative effects from having the jab.
The aim was, said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, to “encourage people to vaccinate” at a time when Poland has some of Europe’s highest rates of scepticism towards the vaccine, according to polls.
The fund finally started operation three months ago, reports Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, and it has already received 880 applications, according to the commissioner for patients’ rights, Bartłomiej Chmielowiec. Poland has administered over 54 million Covid vaccine doses.
So far, Chmielowiec’s office has initiated proceedings in 418 of those cases, which have resulted in 40 positive decisions on compensation.
Of those, half saw patients suffer anaphylactic shocks and the other half were more serious cases in which patients were hospitalised for at least 14 days, including one with Guillain–Barré syndrome. One patient was in hospital for 118 days.
That total paid out to those individuals is around 700,000 zloty, Chmielowiec told Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, with the highest single payout being 87,000 zloty. For patients who suffered anaphylactic shock, the standard payment is 3,000 zloty if they had to visit an emergency room and 10,000 zloty if they were hospitalised.
A further 57 cases put forward by the commissioner’s office have so far been rejected, while in 298 instances the office itself decided not to initiate proceedings because they did not meet the basic criteria for compensation.
Despite concerns over vaccine scepticism, Poland’s rollout initially proceeded at roughly the same rate as the European Union average. However, from the summer of 2021, registration for vaccinations dropped significantly and Poland fell well behind western European countries.
Around 59% of Poland’s population is now fully vaccinated compared to an EU-wide figure of 73%
Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.