Vaccines in some form have existed for hundreds of years. Over time, many people have avoided serious and debilitating disease by taking advantage of the immunity a vaccine can provide. As technology advanced and more and more vaccines were introduced to the public, however, concerns also began to grow about the safety of these immunizations. In the 1980s, those concerns prompted some parents of children who had suffered injuries after a vaccination to file lawsuits against medical providers and vaccine makers. This caused the slowing of vaccine production, and new worries about vaccine shortages plagued the government.
In response, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created to protect those who suffer injuries while still encouraging the production and wide us of vaccines.
The VICP is a Federal Compensation Program for Vaccine Injury Victims
The VICP is a no-fault administered by the federal government that provides compensation to those who have suffered injuries because of a vaccine. The purpose of the program is three-fold:
- To ensure the continued production and adequate supply of vaccines.
- To stabilize vaccine costs.
- To maintain an effective means for those injured by vaccines to obtain compensation.
This compensation is meant to provide medical care, replace lost wages, atone for pain and suffering, and more. The program is jointly managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Court of Federal Claims, with the court deciding who is eligible to receive compensation. Victims are paid from a special fund within the government, which is garnered by an excise tax on each vaccine.
How to Obtain Compensation Through the VICP
To obtain this compensation, victims must file a legal petition with the Court of Federal Claims. This petition, accompanied by pertinent medical records, other evidence, and a $400 filing fee is sent to the court to begin the process. The VICP handbook notes that while a lawyer is not required, this process is a legal endeavor. Additionally, when “certain minimal requirements” are met, the VICP does pay attorney fees and other legal costs on behalf of the victim.
After the petition is filed, it is reviewed by both HHS and DOJ. The DOJ develops a report, which is then sent to a special master. Often, a hearing is held before the special master, who then decides whether or not compensation is warranted. If the claim is denied, it is possible to make an appeal.
Types of Immunizations Covered by the VICP
The VICP offers a table of the vaccines that are currently covered under the program and the complication associated with them. The vaccines are:
- Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP, DTaP, Tdap, DT, Td, or TT).
- Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib).
- Hepatitis A (HAV).
- Hepatitis B (HBV).
- Human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Influenza (TIV, LAIV) [given each year].
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR, MR, M, R).
- Meningococcal (MCV4, MPSV4, MenB-FHbp, MenB-4C).
- Polio (OPV or IPV).
- Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV).
- Rotavirus (RV).
- Varicella (VZV).
- Any combination of the vaccines above.
It is possible to receive compensation for a vaccine or injury not listed on the table, though the victim and his attorney do bear a large burden of proof that the vaccine is responsible for the injury.
Since the program began in 1988, over $3.5 billion has been paid to victims to help ease their burdens and promote as full a recovery as possible. If you or someone you love as suffered a vaccine injury, you may be eligible for compensation. Call the experienced injury attorneys at Shannon Law Group, P.C. Our dedicated legal team can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation in our Chicagoland office.