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It’s Flu Season Get Your Vaccine! But Be Aware: You Are Entitled to Compensation if You Have Bad Reaction

By: Anapol Weiss

The simple reality is, everyone needs to get their vaccines. Unfortunately, a small percentage of vaccine recipients will suffer a reaction—sometimes disabling or even fatal.

In 1988, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Vaccine Act) created the VICP to ensure the production of an adequate number of vaccines, stabilization of vaccine costs, and creation of a forum for people injured by certain vaccines.

There are several main players in the VICP. Injured parties are known as petitioners, who are represented by private attorneys throughout the country. Most of these attorneys are members of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defends all vaccine-related claims and is represented by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys. Claims are handled in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.

The vaccine injury table is your one-stop location to determine which vaccines the VICP covers. Listed vaccines are tetanus toxoid; pertussis; measles, mumps, and rubella; polio virus; Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Haemophilus influenza type b; Varicella; rotavirus, pneumococcal conjugate; seasonal influenza, meningococcal; and human papillomavirus.

By way of example, after the influenza vaccination, symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome begin between two and 45 days later. For shoulder injuries, the onset typically is hours or days. Most cases filed in the VICP involve autoimmune diseases or shoulder injuries.

To be eligible for compensation, injury claims must be filed within three years after the first symptom onset. For death claims, claims must be filed within two years of the death and within four years of the first symptom.

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Vaccine Act preempted the plaintiffs’ design defect claims in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC. This decision effectively made the VICP the sole forum to litigate vaccine injuries.

Unlike a typical civil case, only certain items are compensable in the VICP. The injured party is entitled to:

  • Pain and suffering. Under the Vaccine Act, there is a statutory cap of $250,000 on pain and suffering claims.
  • Past lost wages and future loss of earning capacity.
  • Any out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance.
  • Future medical care.

In cases where the petitioner died as a result of the vaccine, the petitioner is entitled to a maximum of $250,000.

Vaccine injury litigation is complex, expensive, and time-consuming, but victims deserve good representation. This may be one of the most underrepresented groups of injured victims in the United States today.

While people should get their vaccines, they can cause catastrophic injury in limited cases, and victims have legal rights to compensation. We at Anapol Weiss are here to represent you should you have an adverse reaction to a vaccine.