The Korea Herald


Court denies compensation for death after COVID-19 vaccine

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : March 10, 2024 - 14:50

    • Link copied

This photo taken Friday shows a nurse at a university hospital in Seoul. (Yonhap) This photo taken Friday shows a nurse at a university hospital in Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korean court said Sunday it has recently ruled against the compensation for the family of an 88-year-old woman who died shortly after being vaccinated for COVID-19, saying her death could not directly be linked to the vaccination.

According to officials, the victim experienced severe chest pain an hour and 30 minutes after receiving the shot on April 23, 2021. She died two hours and 37 minutes after the vaccination.

The bereaved family requested financial compensation from the government, based on Article 71 of the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, which stipulates state compensation for the side effects of vaccination. But the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency in May of 2022 denied the request, saying her death was caused by aortic dissection and not from the side effects of the vaccine.

Seoul Administrative Court said despite the vaccination being chronologically adjacent to the victim's death, it cannot be seen as the direct cause of death.

"The mother's (victim's) death should be considered due to aortic dissection, which she had been suffering before (the vaccination). It was found that the aortic dissection is not related to the vaccination in September of 2022, and cases of the illness decreased despite the massive vaccination," the court said in its ruling.

It was referring to the government's report in 2022 concluding that the aortic dissection or heart failure cannot be regarded as direct side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Proving one's death was caused by the COVID-19 vaccination has been a tall order for the bereaved families of the victims. Some 2,000 applied for financial compensation for the vaccine-related deaths as of 2023, but only 23 had been approved, according to the KDCA report revealed by Rep. Shin Hyeon-young of the main opposition Democratic Party.

The government and lawmakers in September of last year agreed to increase the amount of condolence money for the deaths that occurred within 90 days of COVID-19 vaccination, regardless of whether or not they were verified to be from the shots. This is separate from the financial compensation stated in the law.