MCIT issued an Important Announcement to members Dec. 23, advising of potential liability coverage limitations for claims and exposures arising from the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
Effective in 2021 MCIT’s new liability reinsurance provider requires a communicable disease exclusion within the MCIT Coverage Document. It is designed to preclude coverage for claims made against members when their actions furthered the transmission of a communicable disease. It was explained that the administration of vaccines may also be excluded from coverage depending on the allegations made against the member.
MCIT Coverage Clarification
Since issuing the announcement, MCIT has worked with the reinsurer to clarify the scope of the communicable disease exclusion as it relates to the vaccination work performed by members. MCIT has determined that the scope of the exclusion is not as broad as first represented.
To clarify, application of the exclusion is tied to an allegation of the negligent handling or spread of a disease itself. For example, claims alleging a member failed to disinfect a waiting room, disregarded mask wearing or social distancing requirements, or used unsanitary practices in the administration of the vaccination, resulting in the transmission of the disease are excluded.
However, other incidents arising from the vaccination process, such as an individual falling down for any reason (fainting, afraid of needles, balance, reaction to the vaccine, or from too much vaccine), remain covered. Again, unless there is an allegation that the member’s action or inaction spread the disease, the vaccination process itself is a covered exposure.
Although this discussion is written in the context of responding to the immediate concern of COVID-19, the new interpretation of the communicable disease exclusion also applies to the transmission of any disease and related vaccination process whether it is COVID-19, influenza, tuberculosis or similar disease.
Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act
The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) provides liability immunity for activities related to medical countermeasures during a public health emergency. The Secretary of Health and Human Services declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to be a public health emergency, warranting liability protections.
The declaration was effective Fe. 4, 2020, and has been amended several times. The PREP Act coverage for the COVID-19 countermeasures is currently scheduled to last through Oct. 1, 2024, or the final day of the declaration of emergency, whichever occurs first.
To keep current on the developments of the PREP Act declaration, members are encouraged to check the Public Health Emergency website.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the administration of COVID-19 vaccine is considered a medical countermeasure covered under the PREP Act that extends liability immunity to county staff authorized to administer the vaccine. More information about the PREP Act can be found on MDH website.
Report Incidents to MCIT
Members should continue to report all actual or suspected claims to MCIT for a coverage determination and are encouraged to contact their MCIT risk management consultant at 1.866.547.6516 with questions. MCIT recommends that members consult with legal counsel as needed.