Vaccine Injuries

Have you or someone you know experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine? Although vaccines serve an important role in maintaining the public’s health and are beneficial to the majority of people, a small percentage of individuals who receive vaccinations will have an adverse reaction to them. 

The federal government acknowledged this in 1986 with the creation of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which was designed to provide a federal no-fault system for compensating those who suffer vaccine-related injuries or death. One of its purposes is to keep these individuals from directly suing their doctors or the pharmaceutical companies, and it’s the pharmaceutical companies themselves who have established the fund from which compensation to these individuals can be paid. One of the primary benefits of the National Vaccine Act is the fact that attorney fees are paid by the fund, not the client.

Some of the more common adverse reactions to vaccines include pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site, as well as fever, irritability, drowsiness, and rash. More severe reactions include seizures, pneumonia, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, deafness, permanent brain damage, and death. Whether or not you qualify for compensation under this Act, and if so the amount of compensation you would receive depends on several factors.

First, you must demonstrate that your vaccination was the cause of the symptoms you experienced or are experiencing, and these symptoms must last for greater than six months. To do this, you must go through the relatively easy process of presenting a vaccine claim. During this process, pre- and post-vaccination medical records are gathered and analyzed, and if these records demonstrate a connection between the vaccination and your symptoms, and that they’ve persisted for a sufficient length of time, a petition is filed with the Federal Court of Claims in Washington, DC. This petition must be filed within three years of the first onset of symptoms.

Once this petition is filed, the claim will be considered an “on table” or “off table” injury. The National Vaccine Court has over the years created a Vaccine Injury Table which lists the circumstances under which a given set of symptoms has in the past been determine to be a direct result of vaccination. An “on table” injury is one in which the symptoms following the vaccination occur so frequently among claimants that they are tracked on this Vaccine Injury Table, and the National Vaccine Court will in those cases presume the symptoms are a direct and proximate result of the vaccination. “On table” injuries are processed relatively quickly and compensation is provided.

If the symptoms do not match those that are on the Vaccine Injury Table, the vaccine injury is considered to be an “off table” injury. Under those circumstances, outside expert is typically required to provide a report explaining how the vaccination caused the symptoms. “Off table” injuries take longer to process, as there is not a presumption that the vaccination caused the symptoms.

In the event your claim is validated by the National Vaccine Court, you will be entitled to compensation for such things as your past and future medical treatment, past and future wage loss, and past and future pain and suffering. The amount would vary depending on the extent and severity of your symptoms. Again, a primary benefit of the National Vaccine Act is the fact that attorney fees are paid by the fund as opposed to by you. Typically fees to pay experts to provide the relevant reports are advanced by the attorney representing you, who then obtains reimbursement from the Court as the claim is processed. The system generally favors the claimant in terms of cost, as the goal is to facilitate and compensate legitimate vaccine injuries to avoid direct lawsuits against doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

More information about vaccines can be found at The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (www.vaers.hhs.gov), which is a national reporting system for adverse vaccine reactions, and also at The National Vaccine Information Center (www.nvic.org), which is a national charitable, nonprofit educational organization designed to provide information regarding vaccines.

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