Articles Posted in Vaccine Injury

2020 has been a difficult year for all. With the approval of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations, there is a mix of hope and fear across the country. Four out of ten people have stated that they will not get the vaccine, based on concerns over the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. Most of the concerns stem from the fact that these mRNA vaccines were created and approved in less than one year, when it typically takes years to develop the vaccine, and test its safety, as reactions may occur months or years down the road. In fact, prior to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19” or “2019-nCoV”) vaccine, the quickest turnaround for a vaccine was four-years for the mumps vaccine. With such a quick turnaround, (only eight months) there are concerns about adverse reactions, allergic reactions, and the long-term effects of the vaccines. Moreover, with mRNA vaccines being a new “vaccinology”, little is known about the long-term impact of these vaccines on our health.

As the Supreme Court of the United States recognized, vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe”, so many are curious to know, if you are injured, is there any recourse? The short answer is yes, but not against the vaccine manufacturers, administrators, or the FDA directly.

Vaccine manufacturers have been protected from liability for decades, dating back to 1986. Another layer of protection was added in 2005, when the Bush Administration signed into law the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, which authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to declare that a vaccine manufacturer, along with others involved with the creation and distribution of the vaccine, are immune from liability for claims of loss or injury caused by the administration of the vaccine. This immunity is active for four years, but can be extended. The only exception to this immunity is if there is “willful misconduct” by the company. HHS Secretary Alex Azar invoked the PREP Act in February 2020 to protect COVID-19 manufacturers, distributors, developers, and administrators.

In the past year, proposed legislation requiring vaccines for all children has skyrocketed. As of February 2019, over 100 bills were proposed across 30 states to amend vaccine requirements and rights. Through these bills, state and federal government seek to eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions, and limit medical exemptions.

On a Federal level, Representative Frederica Wilson (Democrat) of Florida’s 24th Congressional District introduced H.R. 2527 “Vaccinate All Children Act of 2019” on May 3, 2019. This bill proposes to “amend the Public Health Service Act to condition receipt by States (and political subdivisions and public entities of States) of preventive health services grants on the establishment of a State requirement for students in public elementary and secondary schools to be vaccinated in accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and for other purposes.” This act does not provide for any religious or philosophical vaccines exemptions. A child with a medical exemption must provide written certification annually, in which the physician must “demonstrat[e] (to the satisfaction of the individual in charge of the health program at the student’s school) that the physician’s opinion conforms to the accepted standard of medical care.” There is no further explanation provided as to what constitutes a medical exemption the in the bill.

The conditions in a recipient that may warrant a medical exemption are referred to as “contraindications”. The CDC also recognizes “precautions” that should be taken and result in the delay of some vaccines. Unfortunately, these contraindications and precautions are often viewed as “temporary”, or are only present after an individual or immediate relative has already had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. For example, the CDC does not recommend vaccinating children with the MMR vaccine to “severely immunocompromised persons”. In another example, only after a child has suffered encephalopathy (i.e. brain injury) after receiving a pertussis vaccine does the CDC advise against the child receiving another dose of the vaccine. In many cases, for these children the damage is already done. It is common for children to experience less severe symptoms, such as fevers, from the first dose of vaccine, only to be forced to receive additional doses. The compounding affect can cause more severe injuries, immune deficiency disorders, and irreversible damage. This is why medical exemptions are often insufficient to protect children.

Have you or your child been injured by a vaccine? Many people do not realize this, but there is legal action that you can take and we can help! Importantly, under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, your legal fees and costs are paid by the Program, so pursuing a legal action is risk free to you!

In the 1980s, as the number of vaccines grew, there was also an increase in vaccine injuries.  The vaccine companies were inundated with law suits, which threatened a vaccine shortage and an increase in vaccine refusal. In order to compensate victims without the backlash and expense of traditional civil litigation, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“VICP”), aka “Vaccine Court”.

Under the VICP, if you meet the criteria under the VICP, you can file a petition with the Vaccine Court, which is the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, for monetary compensation. The criteria includes 1) receiving a covered vaccine and 2) suffering an injury; 3) within a certain time period. The monetary compensation available to the victims of these injuries include compensation for pain and suffering and current and future medical expenses. Our firm will also petition the Court to pay fees and costs from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund. However, unlike traditional personally injury cases, these fees and expenses are not deducted from your compensation or paid by you out of pocket – they are awarded directly to your attorneys from the vaccine compensation fund.  Thus, you do not have to worry about paying us out of pocket or losing a large percentage of your award to pay your legal fees.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“VICP” aka “Vaccine Court”) is a streamlined litigation program run through the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to award compensation to individuals injured by vaccines. In order to receive compensation through this Program, you or your loved one must meet the criteria discussed supra. However, do not let this criteria alarm or confuse you. We are here to provide you with a free evaluation, so please contact our office to help you navigate the VICP. Importantly, you need to contact an attorney sooner rather than later for your evaluation, as there are strict statute of limitations periods for filing a case.

The VICP Criteria

The VICP created the “Vaccine Injury Table”  to evaluate injury petitions. The table below lists the following criteria needed for a claim under the VICP: 1) the vaccine received; 2) the injury suffered; and 3) the time period during which the first symptom occurred.

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