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Anthony Shingler, 58, spent 420 days in hospital after becoming “paralysed” following his first AstraZeneca jab. He spent months on a ventilator at the Royal Stoke University Hospital but finally came home this week, and has now found he will receive the huge sum – through a government-funded initiative.
The Vaccine Damage Payment scheme (VDPS) is a one-off payment to anyone who has been left severely disabled as a result of a vaccination, or to anyone managing the estate of someone who has died after becoming severely disabled because of certain vaccinations.
To qualify for the £120,000 tax-free payout, a person has to be 60 per cent disabled and provide medical evidence from doctors.
Mr Shingler’s wife Nicola, 49, came across the scheme online in May last year and the couple received the news this week – some 13 months later.
Speaking to Stoke-on-Trent Live, Mr Shingler said: “I am glad I have been awarded the amount. I am relieved because it takes some of the stress from us with the bills and everything else. It gives us a chance to pay back what we borrowed.
“We will have to adapt the bathroom so I have a walk-in shower because at the minute I have to step in so I can’t use it because it’s too high. This money will allow us to get the wet room and use the bathroom. At the minute, there’s no chance of me going back to work.
“I am not looking at this as a retirement fund because it isn’t. It’s nowhere near enough. I’ve got at least another seven to 10 years of working life left in me to do. It was my plan to do that but I can’t see that happening.”
During his time in hospital, Mr Shingler was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a serious condition that sees the body’s immune system damage nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis, following infection, and in rare cases, vaccination.
It leaves one in five sufferers with long-term problems, like being unable to walk unaided.
The dad of two from Stoke-on-Trent said: “I will be recovering for the next three years. I will need specialist equipment to help my quality of life. We might have to buy a stairlift because that’s being rented by a charity at the moment. It would cost around £5,000 to buy.
“My advice to others is to keep fighting, it’s a long process but apply for the scheme. Get regular updates and make sure you’ve got your medical records and look at them yourself.”
Recent data shows that between January 2021 and January 2022, there were 499 cases of GBS linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Five of those have been fatal.
Before sending off an application, Nicola filled in a form through the Yellow card scheme which allows people to record incidents with medicines or medical devices in the UK.
She is also part of a Twitter group called VIBUK which includes other people whose lives have been affected by the Covid vaccines. They are continuing to campaign to reform the VDPS due to its strict criteria.
Nicola said: “Anthony was in the hospital when I applied for it. The process has been horrendous all the way, it’s been a battle. The system wasn’t set up to take on people making the claims. If you haven’t got one of the two criteria then you may not be awarded anything – the bar is too high.
“There’s been people who have been affected by the vaccine but haven’t got enough disability to claim it. We have campaigned with our group – if we can help try to reform the vaccine scheme it will help others who’ve been affected too.”
She added: “£120,000 sounds like a lot but for people who have got children to bring up it doesn’t really compensate. Tony has already lost a full year’s wage.
“It isn’t something we can look to the future and think it’s going to help if he doesn’t get back into work. We can’t look at it to compensate for the personal pain and suffering.
“We really don’t know how long Tony is going to be the way he is and that’s the hardest bit. The doctors don’t know either.
“I’ve had to fight for this. It’s been so stressful for me. It’s given us a little respite from the financial aspect as I was worrying about paying the bills all the time.
“There’s still a lot of hard work we’ve got with Tony with the physical and care aspect. It’s something we weren’t expecting to be doing – we’ve had to battle 13 months for this.
“It’s the first GBS case in the UK to be awarded, we believe. We hope it gives other people suffering a glimmer of hope.”
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The Department of Health and Social Care has reiterated that the VDPS scheme is not a compensation scheme.
A spokesperson said: “Since the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) took over administration of the VDPS from DWP in November 2021, DHSC and NHSBSA have been working together to improve the VDPS to make the process simpler, swifter and more accessible for claimants.
“NHSBSA is now improving the claimant journey by making it faster, more accessible, and with clearer and more regular communication on the progress of their claim. This includes digitisation and modernisation of the process, including the VDPS claim form.
“The VDPS is not designed to cover all expenses associated with severe disablement. It is not a compensation scheme. Instead, it is a payment to recognise that the person could have been harmed by having a vaccine.”
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