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Monday, November 21, 2022

What the Government Wants Vaccine Recipients to Know about the VICP

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that serves as a source of financial recovery for individuals and families coping with the effects of vaccine injuries. While Congress established the VICP in 1988, the program remains relatively unknown, and over the past 34 years, less than 10,000 claimants have obtained compensation despite the hundreds of millions of vaccines administered in the U.S. annually.

While vaccine injuries are relatively rare, the number of successful VICP claims filed is far below the estimated number of vaccine injuries over the relevant time period. For example, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received 467,960 reports from 1990 to 2016 alone.

The VICP is funded by a tax on vaccines, and the program currently has billions of dollars in funding available. To help vaccine recipients and families understand their rights under the VICP, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) published a document titled, What You Need to Know about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) in 2019.

7 Important Facts about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)

Here is an overview of what the government wants you to know about the VICP:

1. Congress Created the VICP to Help Individuals and Families Recover from Vaccine Injuries

As the HRSA explains, in the 1980s new reports concerning the risks associated with the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccine led to a wave of lawsuits against doctors and vaccine manufacturers. As a result of these lawsuits, “[s]ome vaccine companies decided to stop making vaccines, which created vaccine shortages and threatened the Nation’s health.”

Congress created the VICP as a response to this national health threat. Recognizing that vaccine injuries occur in a small percentage of cases—but also recognizing the importance of widespread vaccination—Congress established the VICP so that individuals and families affected by vaccine injuries could recover their losses without jeopardizing the nation’s vaccine supply chain.

2. The VICP Covers Most Vaccines the CDC Recommends for Routine Administration in the U.S.

While the VICP does not cover all vaccines (the COVID-19 vaccines are among a variety of vaccines that are excluded), it covers most vaccines that the CDC recommends for routine administration to children and adults in the United States. As listed by the HRSA, the vaccines currently covered under the VICP include:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP, DTaP, Tdap, DT, Td, or TT)

  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

  • Hepatitis A (HAV)

  • Hepatitis B (HBV)

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

  • Influenza (TIV, LAIV) [given each year]

  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR, MR, M, R)

  • Meningococcal (MCV4, MPSV4, MenB-FHbp, MenB-4C)

  • Polio (OPV or IPV)

  • Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV)

  • Rotavirus (RV)

  • Varicella (VZV)

  • Any combination of the vaccines above

3. The VICP Provides “No Fault” Financial Compensation to Eligible Claimants

When seeking financial compensation under the VICP, vaccine recipients and family members do not need to prove fault. As the HRSA explains, “You may file a claim if you received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that you have been injured by this vaccine . . . [or] you are a parent or legal guardian of a child or disabled adult who received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that the person was injured by this vaccine.” While some vaccine injuries result from errors during vaccine administration, all that is necessary to file a claim is proof that you or a loved one experienced a covered vaccine injury.

4. All VICP Claimants Must Provide Certain Basic Information

The process of seeking compensation under the VICP starts with filing a petition in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (also known as the “Vaccine Court”). Minimally, all petitions filed with the Vaccine Court must include the following information:

  • The name of the vaccine recipient

  • The vaccine that caused the injury

  • The date of vaccination

  • The city and state or country where the vaccine was administered

  • The type of injury (i.e., anaphylaxis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome or SIRVA)

  • When the first symptom of the injury appeared

  • How long the effects of the injury have lasted (to date)

But, while these are the basic filing requirements, claimants must submit various other key pieces of information as well. For example, claimants must demonstrate how much they are entitled to recover for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This requires various forms of documentation—including medical records, employment records, and evidence of the injury’s day-to-day impacts.

5. The VICP Pays Claimants’ Legal Fees Separately from Their Compensation Awards

Another key aspect of the VICP is that it pays claimants’ legal fees separately from their compensation awards. This means that it truly costs nothing to hire an attorney to represent you. As the HRSA explains, “since [filing a VICP claim] is a legal process, most people use a lawyer.”

6. There Are Strict Deadlines for Filing VICP Claims

VICP claims are subject to strict deadlines. For non-fatal injury claims, the petition must be filed within three years of the first symptom or other “manifestation of onset” of the vaccine injury. For fatal vaccine injuries, eligible family members must file within two years of the date of death and within four years of the first symptom or other manifestation of onset.

7. Filing a Successful VICP Claim is a Multi-Step Process

While the VICP is intended to serve as a source of financial compensation for eligible individuals and families, filing a successful claim is a multi-step process. The VICP is not a benefit program like Medicare or Medicaid. Claimants need to know how to assert their legal rights effectively, and, throughout the process, they need to avoid mistakes that could jeopardize their recovery.

Are You Entitled to Financial Compensation Under the VICP?

If you believe you may be entitled to financial compensation under the VICP, we encourage you to contact us for more information. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with attorney Leah V. Durant, please call 202-800-1711 or request an appointment online today.

 

Leah Durant Bio

Experienced litigation attorney Leah Durant focuses on representing clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a litigation firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and her staff represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.


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