The federal government has various resources that relate to vaccines. Some of these resources are in the area of vaccine safety, giving information to patients before they receive their vaccinations. Other tools have to do with reporting the injury, both for purposes of further research and to lay the groundwork for a claim for compensation. Finally, the most relevant resource that is of interest to those who have been injured by vaccination is the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
Information About the Vaccines and Side Effects
First, the federal government is a repository for information about each vaccine that it has approved. The CDC will put out a fact sheet about each vaccine letting the public know of the harms and side effects. It will list all of the known complications associated with each vaccine along with descriptions of the problems that people may face.
The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System
The federal government encourages those who have experienced any kind of complication from a vaccination to report it through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This is the way that the government is able to track vaccine injuries. In many cases, the government’s understanding of vaccine injuries depends on the information that they learn through patient reports.
The government often learns of new injuries through VAERS reports. For example, the CDC did not originally know much about a vaccine injury called SIRVA which is caused when the vaccine is given in the wrong place in the shoulder. It was only after numerous reports of the injuries were filed through the VAERS that the government was able to gain an understanding. This becomes important because the government is then able to add these injuries to the Vaccine Injury Tables. It is then that the complications could make the patient eligible for compensation.
The VAERS is an online system. It is monitored by both the CDC and FDA. These agencies rely on patients to report data to them, and the VAERS is a passive system. However, patients can also report adverse events by mail or fax. Healthcare providers are encouraged to file reports with VAERS as well.
The Vaccine Injury Tables
The CDC also offers numerous reference materials on its website related to VAERS. There are instructions on how to use it along with overviews and demonstrations. Information in the VAERS database can be searched by the public who want to know whether the side effect that they are experiencing is one that is also encountered by the rest of the public. The public can extract data from this table and make their own spreadsheets from the information.
The federal government also publishes vaccine injury tables. This is a resource for the public insofar as it gives information to them about what types of injuries may be compensable. The tables will also inform the public which injuries are associated with each vaccine and how long the onset of these injuries will take. The public will have a general idea after reading the tables whether the symptoms that they have been experiencing have been also encountered by other people. The table gives a listing of reportable events that people should make the subject of their VAERS reports.
In order for the VICP to compensate for an injury, it must be a recognized one through the Vaccine Injury Tables. The table may be updated by the federal government based on the information that they have learned. However, there is still the possibility that those who have suffered injuries that are not on the table may receive compensation for their side effects. The table lays out criteria for these injuries and what would need to happen for there to be compensation.
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
The most important resource that the federal government offers those who have suffered vaccine injuries is the VICP, which enables them to receive payment for the harm that they have suffered. This is a program that exists solely to compensate vaccine injury victims.
The VICP was born from a policy debate that weighed the tension between the need for the injured to be compensated and the public utility in having manufacturers develop vaccines for the public. The thought was that companies would not want to invest resources in developing these vaccines if they could be subject to having to defend themselves frequently in scores of lawsuits. There is a public need for vaccinations to protect people from these diseases, and the government does not want the companies that fill this need to be driven from the business.
The result is a program that is funded by a tax that is placed on each dose of vaccination. In other words, the public ultimately funds the settlement with their own money, or at least that of their health insurance provider if they are the ones who are paying. No money from these settlements comes from the federal government or the vaccine makers. Instead, it is the federal government that administers the fund and makes decisions about which cases to attempt to settle.
In actuality, the VICP ends up being its own court system. Even though the VICP contains money from the proceeds of taxes as opposed to appropriated money, the claims are still filed as a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services. Once the claim is filed, the government lawyers will decide whether to settle or litigate the claim. In many instances, they will elect to settle and will negotiate an amount with the claimant. If there is no settlement, the case will go to a special vaccine court where an administrative law judge may call a hearing. The whole system is a relatively informal one with expedited procedures.
If you have suffered side effects from vaccination, contact the lawyers at The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates. They will offer a complementary evaluation of your case and begin the process of filing your claim for compensation.