The majority of people who get vaccinated experience relatively mild adverse effects. Patients may experience some pain or swelling at the injection site. Some vaccines cause side effects such as fever, rash, and aching muscles. Seizures and other life-threatening allergic reactions are severe side effects that may occur, albeit very rarely.
Aside from local and systemic reactions to vaccination, some experience misplaced vaccine injury. It’s a medical situation where the injection is improperly administered, causing the patient pain and other symptoms.
Stories of medical malpractice in this area have been an issue for a long time. Concerns have been raised about patients being uninformed of the possible implications of vaccination. And they may suffer pain not knowing what to do. Regrettably, many are unaware they can claim compensation for their anxiety, pain, and sleepless nights.
Injuries sustained because a medical professional failed to administer or inject the vaccine properly is an actionable wrong. To address this public welfare concern, the federal government has instituted programs to cover the claims of vaccine-injured individuals.
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was established to compensate individuals who sustained injury due to the administration of certain vaccines. However, the process is not the same as seeking compensation in a car accident claim, where you enlist the help of an attorney to establish fault or liability in court.
This program was created after a spate of lawsuits filed against vaccine companies and healthcare professionals almost caused a vaccine shortage and lowered the vaccination rates in the United States. It also aims to support the government’s thrust to prevent the resurgence of illnesses that could be easily prevented by vaccination.
Some Vaccines Covered Under the Program
Vaccines With Tetanus Toxoid
The following are examples of vaccines with tetanus toxoid:
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP)
- Diphtheria and tetanus (DT)
- Tetanus and diphtheria (Td)
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap)
Children are typically given the DTaP and Tdap vaccines to boost their immunity against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. These vaccines are administered in combination.
Some people experience side effects, such as pain or swelling at the injection site, fever, irritability, exhaustion, loss of appetite, and vomiting, after receiving a DTaP vaccination. Sometimes, there are more serious adverse reactions like seizures, nonstop crying due to pain, or high fever.
Vaccines With Whole Cell Pertussis Bacteria/Agent
These vaccines were produced using whole tumour cells that have undergone genetic modifications in laboratories and transformed to boost immunity against certain diseases. There are instances, though relatively rare, where the wrong dosage was given, or the vaccine was incorrectly administered.
Filing A Vaccine Injury Compensation Claim
The VICP is a ‘no-fault’ alternative to resolving patient claims or petitions arising from their vaccine injury. Note that you need to file your petition, along with medical records and other supporting documents, with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
You must also provide a copy of your petition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It will review your medical records and decide whether to contest your claim that the vaccine caused your injury or admit that it was responsible. The HHS is the defendant in these cases and is represented by lawyers from the Department of Justice.
The petition can be filed by anyone of any age who has received a covered vaccine and believes that they were harmed because of it. The program allows parents, legal guardians, or legal representatives to file claims on behalf of their minor children, disabled adult children, or deceased loved ones.
To be eligible to file a petition, any of the following circumstances must be present:
- The effects of the vaccine-related injury should have lasted more than six months after the vaccination.
- The effects of the vaccine injury should have resulted in hospital confinement and surgery.
- The vaccine injury caused a person’s death.
The petition must be filed with the designated government office within three years after the first symptom was felt. If the vaccine injury resulted in the patient’s death, the period to file is within two years after the time of death or four years from the time the symptom from such injury was first felt.
Substantiating Your Vaccine Injury Claim
You may need to hire an experienced vaccine injury lawyer as they’re well-versed with the intricacies of establishing your cause of action. They can help you gather all your medical records and other relevant documentation, increasing your chances of getting reasonable compensation for your vaccine-related injuries.
It’s not simple to demonstrate in court that the vaccine was administered incorrectly, regardless of whether it occurred due to negligence or an unfortunate accident. In addition, your claim that the vaccine is accountable for your injury might be rejected if you can’t present adequate proof.
Furthermore, it would be challenging to establish your eligibility for this program if you have no idea about the legal proceedings involved.
The No-Fault Case
The government-initiated compensation program for vaccine injury is a ‘no-fault’ alternative in addressing the petition of affected individuals. It’s not adversarial, and there’s no need to establish the identity of the person who administered the vaccine and caused the injury suffered.
This means the government will provide financial compensation for the injury caused by the administration of the vaccine even if the resultant damage isn’t the government’s fault. Funding comes from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund.
The injury you or your loved one may have sustained due to a vaccine or the administration of the same may fall under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. This program has outlined the steps you need to follow in order to claim compensation.
For one, vaccine injury claims must be filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In addition, unlike other personal injury lawsuits, these claims are not adversarial in nature. Your petition will be reviewed with the help of the Department of Health and Human Services. You will receive financial compensation if it’s determined that the vaccine was indeed accountable for your injury.
However, you may think you have a cause for action against the medical professional who administered the vaccine if the wrong dosage was given or injected incorrectly. In this case, you need to seek the advice of a lawyer with experience in medical malpractice. This is one instance where you may file a vaccine injury outside the VICP.
Generally, you must wait for your VICP claim to be processed before you can file a lawsuit against the healthcare professional who administered the vaccine or the vaccine manufacturer.