Thu, Apr 18, 2019 - Page 2 News List

MOHW urged not to appeal compensation ruling

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

From left, the father of a teenager known as “Bella,” Taiwan Women’s Link chairwoman Huang Sue-ying, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen and Centers for Disease Control physician Lin Yung-ching yesterday take part in a news conference in Taipei.

Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times

Taiwan Women’s Link and a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker yesterday urged the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) not to appeal an administrative court ruling ordering compensation for a teenage girl who apparently had an adverse reaction after being vaccinated for human papillomavirus (HPV).

The Taipei High Administrative Court on Thursday last week ruled that the ministry pay the junior-high-school student, identified only as “Bella,” between NT$20,000 and NT$1.2 million (US$648 and US$38,900).

Bella developed symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis about a week after she received a second dose of the HPV vaccine at her school on Sept. 30, 2016, but the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) review committee in 2017 denied her application for vaccination victim relief.

Taiwan Women’s Link chairperson Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) and DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) held a news conference in Taipei, attended by Bella’s father to urge the ministry not to appeal the ruling.

They also asked people to stop describing Bella’s illness as psychogenic.

Showing reporters two papers with human figures and dense wording that recorded the dates and body parts where Bella felt arthritis pain, Bella’s father sobbed as he said that his daughter had been healthy and a member of her school’s track and field team before she was vaccinated.

Now she sometimes takes up to nine oral steroids a day as well as painkillers before tests or attending important events, he said.

Although HPV vaccines are being administered in many nations and generally appear safe for most people, the possibility of adverse reactions in rare cases cannot be ruled out, Huang said.

There have been a few cases of people suffering adverse reactions in the US and receiving compensation, so the government’s vaccination victim relief mechanism should focus on protecting the public, not defending pharmaceutical companies, she said.

The CDC’s review committee said Bella’s symptoms were not caused by the vaccine, but it had not been able to provide clear evidence to back his claim, even though it had hired four lawyers to ask Bella’s family to provide evidence of such a link, Lin said.

Bella’s father said that the doctor who examined his daughter after she developed arthritis issued a certificate stating that she showed “suspected vaccine-induced symptoms,” but the ministry chose to believe the review committee, which did not treat his daughter.

CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) told the news conference that the ministry would review suggestions from specialists on the review committee and discuss Bella’s case with the Health Promotion Administration before it decides whether to file an appeal.

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