Man left struggling to walk after Oxford jab calls for review of Government compensation scheme
By David Parsley
Nick Pitcher remains fully behind vaccinations despite being struck down with the incredibly rare Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which has left him unable to walk without the aid of a stick
Government compensation for those suffering serious reactions to vaccines are in “urgent need of updating”, according to a man who was left struggling to walk following his first Covid jab.
Nick Pitcher received his first Oxford/AstraZeneca jab in March and is now unable to work or walk without the aid of a stick.
Mr Pitcher, 54, was struck down with the incredibly rare Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) following the vaccine and is now campaigning for the 1979 Vaccines Damage Payment Act (VDPA) to be updated to allow those suffering from serious side effects from any vaccine have an easier route to compensation.
Currently only 2 per cent of those who apply through the VDPA are awarded compensation, after having to prove at a level of at least 60 per cent disability.
Mr Pitcher, who was cycling 50 miles several times a week before receiving his Covid jab, said: “I can’t work, and I find it impossible to walk without the aid of a walking stick. However, my chances of getting any financial help are virtually zero because it’s almost impossible to prove I have been left with 60 per cent disability.”
Mr Pitcher, who is backing a Parliamentary petition to review the current compensation laws, is believed to be only the fifth person to have been hit by GBS in the UK after receiving the Oxford jab. However, despite the devastating impact on his life, he remains fully supportive of Covid vaccines.
The illness is listed on the Government’s Yellow Card list of possible side effects of the Oxford vaccine. The NHS describes it as a “very rare and serious condition that affects the nerves”.
It mainly affects the feet, hands and limbs, causing problems such as numbness, weakness and pain, and can affects people of all ages but it is more common in adults and males.
“I was incredibly unlucky,” said Mr Pitcher. “I understand that. This is not about being anti-vax at all. I am not. I’ve encouraged my wife and kids to get double jabbed and they all have. I am fully behind the vaccines, including the Oxford one I had.
“This is about those of us that suffer ridiculously rare side effects. People like me have been hit really hard. I’m told by my doctor that I could recover in months, or that the impact could last for years. If what I have is not discovered quickly, it can kill you. So, in some ways I was lucky.”
Mr Pitcher’s local MP Kit Malthouse wrote to vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi about his constituent’s case. In response, Mr Zahawi recommended Mr Pitcher seek mental health advice from his doctor or contact the Samaritans.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) would not comment on whether it would revisit the current vaccine compensation laws.
A spokeswoman for DHSC said: “All vaccines being used in the UK have undergone robust clinical trials and have met the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.
“The vaccine damage payments scheme provides a financial safety net to help ease the burden on individuals who have, in extremely rare circumstances, experienced harm due to receiving a government-recommended vaccine for a listed disease.”