Obscure law shields vaccine manufactures from liability: National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program pays out billions
by Carol Thompson
An obscure government program shields vaccine manufacturers from lawsuits when the vaccines they produce result in injury or death. Instead, the government handles claims and determines who is eligible for compensation.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), administered under the U.S. Department of Health and Health and Human Services, has paid out billions of dollars to those who have suffered damage or have lost a family member from vaccinations.
Since the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) began paying out claims in 1989, there have been 3,812 compensation awards. The awards total more than $2.8 billion and more than $118.6 million has been paid for legal fees. The Department of Health and Human Services states that over 9,800 vaccine injury claims have been dismissed, or two-thirds.
In the early 1980s, news reports of serious side effects from the DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine caused some to question the safety of the vaccine. Parents began filing many lawsuits against vaccine companies, doctors, and nurses. Some vaccine companies decided to stop making vaccines, which created vaccine shortages and threatened the nation’s health, according to the government website.
The VICP was established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines. The VICP is a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims that provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines. The U. S. Court of Federal Claims decides who will be paid.
Unlike civil court, there are no punitive damages awarded under the VICP and compensation for pain and suffering or death from vaccines are capped at $250,000.
A Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund provides funding for the VICP to compensate vaccine-related injury or death claims for covered vaccines administered on or after October 1, 1988, and is funded by a 75-cent excise tax on vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for routine administration to children. The excise tax is imposed on each dose of a vaccine for each disease prevented, hence, if one vaccine prevents three diseases the tax would be $2.25.
According to the Nov. 14 report, there were 3,291 claims filed for injury as the result of the DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, whole cell pertussis) and 696 claims for death since the program began, for a total of 3,987 claims. Of those, 1,270 were compensated and 2,705 were dismissed.
Claims for injury or death for influenza shots are also high, according to the program statistics. Most recently, a Florida mother has claimed her daughter suffers from paralysis following a flu shot given last November, when the child was nine years old.
Carla Grivna, mother of the child, said the flu shot caused a rare viral infection of the brain known as Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM). Her daughter Marysue is bedridden and has lost most of her vocabulary.
ADEM is a rare inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own brain tissue, triggered by an environmental stimulus in genetically susceptible individuals, according to the Transverse Myelitis Association. More often it is believed to be triggered by a response to an infection or to a vaccination. For this reason, ADEM is sometimes referred to as post-infectious or post-immunization acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.
Should a complaint filed with VICP be denied, only then can a civil lawsuit be filed.
Image: CDC Global Health