296 patients qualified for Covid-19 vaccine injury payouts as at Dec 31: MOH

A total of $1,262,000, up from $782,000 last August, has been paid out or is in the process of being paid out. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There were 296 patients who qualified for government financial aid under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (Vifap) due to serious side effects related to Covid-19 vaccines as at Dec 31 last year.

This is up from 144 as at last August, the Ministry of Health (MOH) told The Straits Times in response to queries.

A total of $1,262,000, up from $782,000 last August, has been paid out or is in the process of being paid out, said the ministry.

The highest Tier 1 payout of $225,000 has been extended to two applicants so far.

Both the payout quantum and number of applicants who qualified for the top tier remain unchanged since the ministry's last update on Vifap disbursements in August.

Vifap provides one-time goodwill financial assistance to people who experience serious vaccine-related side effects, according to the MOH website.

To qualify for Vifap, the individual must be a Singaporean, permanent resident or long-term pass holder who was vaccinated under the national Covid-19 vaccination programme in accordance with the recommendations of the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination.

He must have then experienced a serious side effect that required inpatient hospitalisation, caused persistent incapacity or disability, or was fatal, which was assessed by a doctor to be related to the individual's Covid-19 vaccination.

Each application will be evaluated by an independent clinical panel appointed by MOH.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has said that the clinical panel assesses applications based on two considerations: whether the patient's conditions are related to the Covid-19 vaccination, and how severe these are.

"The reasons for rejected applications are made known to the applicant and unsuccessful applicants may apply for a reassessment if there is new supporting medical information," he said in a parliamentary reply to a question by Workers' Party MP He Ting Ru on Oct 4.

Three tiers of financial assistance are available for qualifying patients, with payouts based on the severity of their side effects.

Those who die or develop severe permanent disability will receive $225,000.

Those admitted to a high dependency ward or intensive care but subsequently recover stand to receive $10,000, while those who require hospitalisation and medical intervention to recover will receive $2,000.

MOH has said that Vifap is a goodwill financial assistance scheme independent of existing healthcare financing and insurance schemes.

It is not meant to reimburse medical costs associated with the side effect, but to provide an additional layer of financial support for patients who had suffered from serious side effects caused by the Covid-19 vaccine, it said.

"Individuals who experience side effects after their Covid-19 vaccination can continue to receive support through applicable healthcare financing schemes, such as MediShield Life and subsidies at our public healthcare institutions," it said.

"Persons with private insurance may wish to check with their insurance provider on their coverage details."

Health Check

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.