Lawmakers and government officials on Wednesday agreed to increase the amount of condolence money to families of those who died following COVID-19 vaccinations, regardless of whether the vaccination itself was confirmed to be the cause of death.
From September, families will be eligible to get up to 30 million won ($22,500) in condolence money if a family member dies within 90 days of having received the COVID-19 vaccine, even if the cause of death can not be identified in an autopsy. Since July 2022, 10 million won had been given if the death occurred within 42 days of having received the shot.
Families can now get up to 20 million won even if autopsies were not conducted.
Separately, families of those who died within three days of inoculation but had not been eligible for any government aid previously can now get at least 10 million won, while the amount could go up to 30 million won depending on the severity of the side effects.
These measures also apply retroactively, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
"Korea was able to achieve a higher inoculation rate compared with the rest of the world because people trusted the state and went to get vaccinated," Rep. Park Dae-chul of the ruling People Power Party said during a meeting between the ruling party and the government at the National Assembly.
"In this regard, it is the state's responsibility to tackle the blind spot in helping out those who fell victim to the vaccination policy."
This move comes as there have been growing calls to widen the scope of eligibility for those to receive either condolence money -- in which case the government does not necessarily admit liability -- or compensation as a result of the government's recognition of its liability.
The KDCA came under fire in a parliamentary meeting at the National Assembly on Aug. 25 over its recent decision to appeal to a court ruling that recognized the state's liability to compensate for injuries after the vaccination.
In July, the Seoul Administrative Court ordered the KDCA not to refuse compensation to the family of a man who suffered deadly brain injuries six days after the vaccination in October 2021, when he was 34.
The court ruling showed that, as COVID-19 vaccines earned the emergency use authorization instead of a full-fledged approval, an epidemiological causality between the vaccination and his death cannot be ruled out.