COVID vaccine manufacturers to get protection from lawsuits

January 29, 2021

Jamaica will be passing laws to grant immunity to vaccine producers from liability if someone suffers harm having taken the COVID-19 vaccine.

Representatives of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, appearing before a Special Select Committee of Parliament yesterday, said that the country would be required to put laws and regulations in place to "indemnify the manufacturer for product liability claims associated with the use of administration of that vaccine".

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said that Jamaica would have to pass a law to allow for the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines. He said, too, that the framework for the indemnification of the manufacturers of the product is being pursued on a "parallel course" with legal provision authorising the emergency use of the vaccines in the country.

Tufton was responding to committee member Anthony Hylton, who said that given Jamaica's less than stellar record in getting regulations to Parliament in a timely manner, it is important that the matter receive "priority" treatment, failing which "we may find ourselves in some legal lacuna".

Granted indemnity

Tufton said that the sub-committee of Cabinet, which includes Attorney General Marlene Malahoo-Forte, is seized of the importance of having the regulations brought to Parliament in a timely manner.

Several governments around the world have granted indemnity from any claims that may arise from use of the vaccine to manufacturers and suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines.

Jamaica has 15,435 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 194 were recorded on Wednesday. There have been 344 covid-related deaths. Most persons - 55 per cent - who have died from COVID-19 are males.

The Government plans to follow countries around the world and roll out a massive inoculation programme in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Some 16 per cent of the population is expected to be vaccinated by year-end.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie said that vaccines that were targetted under the COVID-19 Global Access Facility (COVAX) have been secured.

"It was there intention to secure two billion (doses of ) vaccines by the end of the year. They have passed the two billion vaccines," Bisasor-McKenzie said, adding that the shots would be enough "at least for the first two quarters" for participating countries like Jamaica.

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