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South Australian who suffered Covid vaccine injury after being forced to get a booster to keep his job wins workers compensation battle

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A South Australian child and youth worker who suffered heart problems caused by a Covid vaccination has won an appeal for workers compensation.

In a landmark legal ruling, the SA Employment Tribunal ordered Daniel Shepherd, 44, a married father of a young child, be awarded weekly income support and have his medical expenses paid.

Judge Mark Calligeros said in his judgement: “It would be ironic and unjust if Mr Shepherd was denied financial and medical support by complying with the State’s desire to preserve public health.

He said it would be “astonishing” if a worker injured while complying with an Emergency Act (EM Act) direction would not be eligible for workers compensation.

“I am not satisfied that Parliament intended to deny compensation to employees of the State injured by heeding a vaccination mandate designed to protect the health and welfare of citizens,” he wrote.

Mr Shepherd suffered adverse side effects from his first two Covid shots while working for Baptist Care SA in 2021, and then started a new role at the Department for Child Protection in October of that year.

In January 2022 certain workers were required under the Emergency Act to get a third injection.

Mr Shepherd was reluctant to do so, but on February 24, 2022, had a Pfizer mRNA booster shot because he wished to keep working at a job he loved and needed to support his three-year-old son.

The next day he suffered severe unbearable chest pains which has since been diagnosed as post-vaccine pericarditis – an inflammation of the membrane that surround the heart – and has since been unable to work due to fatigue and constant pain.

But his initial claim for compensation was rejected by the State of South Australia (in right of the Department of Child Protection) because it claimed the injury was not caused by the vaccine.

It later admitted that the vaccine was responsible, but claimed the injury did not arise from employment, but from a direction under the EM Act, and that any liability arising from a directive of the EM Act was excluded by a section of the act.

Judge Calligeros found that the injury was the result of both the vaccine mandate and Mr Shepherd’s employment, and that the EM Act does not prohibit workers compensation claims.

SA Health continues to enforce a mandatory Covid vaccination policy for some workers despite critical staff shortages, and more than 230 staff have been terminated for refusing to comply with many more still absent.

In Queensland workers are still being terminated even though that state’s mandate has been lifted.

In its final Covid-19 vaccine safety report on November 2, the Therapeutic Goods Administration noted 139,654 adverse event reports – one for every 500 doses – including 14 deaths.

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