Vaccines have saved millions of lives and adults and children around the world are safely vaccinated against diseases and illnesses every day. Yet, bad reactions to vaccines do happen including in rare instances with severe and debilitating consequences. This is why Congress created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). See a video about the NVICP here. Victims of adverse vaccine reactions can get financial compensation from the NVICP without having to sue their doctor. And there is NO COST for the program.
How Does It Work?
Congress has established a trust fund from which vaccine injury claims are paid rather than by lawsuits against doctors. These claims must be initiated with the United States Court of Federal Claims by filing a petition. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services doctors review the petition and make a preliminary recommendation. The U.S. Department of Justice writes a report that includes legal analysis and submits it to the Court. The report is presented to a court-appointed special master, who decides whether the petitioner should be compensated. Often a hearing is conducted in which the petitioner and government can present evidence. The special master then determines the amount and type of compensation and the Court orders the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award compensation. If the petition is rejected, the decision may be appealed. Attorney fees are paid in addition to any award that is paid and not out of the award itself. There is NO COST to the victim.
Who Can File a Claim?
You were administered a vaccine covered by the NVICP and injured by that vaccine. OR You are a parent or legal guardian of a child or disabled adult or the legal representative of the estate of a deceased person who was administered a covered vaccine and was injured. You do not have be a United States citizen to be eligible for compensation and even some people who were vaccinated outside the U.S. are eligible for compensation. There is no age restriction on who may file a claim.
To have an eligible injury for compensation:
- The adverse effects must have lasted for more than 6 months; or
- Resulted in a hospital stay and surgery or;
- Resulted in death.
The Vaccine Injury Table lists injuries and/or conditions associated with covered vaccines. Some typical conditions include:
- Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM): Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is characterized by a brief but widespread attack of inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin – the protective covering of nerve fibers. ADEM often follows viral or bacterial infections, or less often, vaccination for measles, mumps, or rubella.
- Brachial Neuritis: Brachial Neuritis results when the nerves that control your shoulder, arm, and hand become inflamed. It is often triggered by the DTaP, Influenza and Hepatitis B vaccines.
- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP): a neurological disorder characterized by progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms. CIDP has been linked to the flu shot, DTaP, Hepatitis B, and the MMR vaccines.
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS): a rare disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages their nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis and has been linked to flu vaccination.
- Ideopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP): a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets, which are necessary for normal blood clotting. People with the disease have too few platelets in the blood. There is some concern that the MMR vaccine is linked to ITP
- Intussusception: the sliding of one part of the intestine into another. Medical studies have found a link between Intussusception and the rotavirus vaccine.
- Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM): Dermatomyositis is one of a group of muscle diseases known as the inflammatory myopathies, which are characterized by chronic muscle inflammation accompanied by muscle weakness. Dermatomyositis’ cardinal symptom is a skin rash that precedes, accompanies, or follows progressive muscle weakness. JDM is suspected to be triggered by external factors, including vaccination.
- Narcolepsy: a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. It has been linked to the H1N1 flu shot.
- Neuromyelitis Optica or Optic Neuritis Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO): an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and proteins in the body, must often those in the spinal cord and eyes. Individuals with NMO develop optic neuritis, which caused pain in the eye and vision loss. Links have been found between NMO and the Flu vaccine and the HPV vaccine.
- Shoulder Injury Resulting from Vaccine Administration (SIRVA): Erroneous administration of intramuscular vaccines, such as the flu vaccine typically given above the deltoid muscle, can result in serious shoulder injuries and diminished vaccine efficacy.
- Transverse Myelitis (TM): The sudden onset of spinal cord disease. Symptoms include general back pain followed by weakness in the feet and legs that moves upward. There is no cure and many patients are left with permanent disabilities or paralysis. TM has been linked to some vaccinations, including those for chickenpox and rabies.
Which Vaccines are Covered?
- Diphtheria (DTP, DTaP, Tdap, DT, Td, TT)
- Haemophilus influenza type b polysaccharide conjugate vaccines (Hib)
- Hepatitis A (HAV)
- Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Seasonal influenza (Flu) (Non-Seasonal Flu Vaccines are not NVICP-covered vaccines.)
- Measles (MMR)
- Mumps (MMR, MR, M)
- Meningococcal (MCV4, MPSV4)
- Pertussis (DTP, DTaP, Tdap)
- Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) (Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV, PPV) is not a NVICP-covered vaccine.)
- Polio (OPV or IPV)
- Rotavirus (RV)
- Rubella (MMR, MR, R)
- Tetanus (Td)
- Varicella (VAR) (Herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine is not a NVICP-covered vaccine.)
I Was Injured By a Vaccine, Why Do I Need an Attorney?
Vaccine cases are different. They require attorneys with scientific background and permission to practice before the Federal Court of Claims in Washington DC. We represent clients from all over the United States before the Vaccine Court. Medical evidence linking the injury or fatality to the vaccine is gathered and presented to the Vaccine Court. If existing medical records are insufficient, we help retain an appropriate expert. Navigating the Vaccine Court and securing the compensation you deserve for a vaccine-related injury can be a complex process. To effectively pursue a claim for a vaccine-related injury or fatality you should have legal representation that understands the Vaccine Court and the specific evidence it is likely to find persuasive. Because attorney fees are not taken out of your award, but are paid separately by the Program, all of this expertise is available to you at NO COST.