WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR VACCINATION-RELATED INJURIES?
Many clients and colleagues have been asking me, “What happens if the COVID-19 vaccine injures me?” As the first doses of the new Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are being administered across the country, many lingering questions remain, from the vaccine’s effectiveness to its potential cost. There’s nothing unusual in these questions — in fact, they arise whenever a new vaccine is introduced to the public.
With this new COVID-19 vaccine, most people seem focused on the possibility of side effects. Given that it’s a drug that was developed in record time and had a shorter trial period than many other vaccines, that could definitely be a cause for concern. And while early side effects seem few and far between, what might happen if an injury occurred as a result of vaccination?
Believe it or not, an entire federal department focuses solely on vaccine personal injury claims. They have been dubbed the “vaccine court” but are officially known as the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). We can trace their origin back to 1988, when lawsuits threatened our stockpile of certain vaccines based on false scientific claims. But the VICP isn’t just there to protect drug makers; it also provides more accountability so people injured by vaccines can receive justice. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the VICP does not have jurisdiction over COVID-19 vaccines.
That doesn’t mean there’s no recourse. The Health Resources & Services Administration has a program called the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), which has been charged with hearing COVID-19 vaccination claims and dispensing benefits as appropriate. Exactly what those benefits are remains to be seen — we still don’t know how much they’ll be willing to pay out and under what circumstances. Furthermore, the CICP is traditionally a “last resort” for damages when insurers and other parties won’t pay. Treating them as a first resort is going to be a departure from that.
One of the primary challenges in bringing a COVID-19 vaccine injury claim is that we don’t really know what symptoms or side effects to look out for. There have been minimal reports of adverse effects, but that doesn’t mean problems couldn’t develop down the line. As with all vaccines, the most common side effect is injection site reaction: redness, swollen skin, tenderness, and pain where they put the shot in your arm. A few patients have reported chills, headaches, and flu-like symptoms, and a very small group has reported joint pain.
So far, all those side effects appear to last, at most, a few weeks. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t new ground to explore regarding coverage benefits if you experience any damaging side effects due to the COVID-19 vaccine. After all, we’ve only been giving the vaccine for a few weeks!
As we move forward in 2021, keep an eye out for side effects from the vaccine. And if you or someone you know does experience ongoing negative effects, The Whisler Law Firm may be helpful in figuring out what your options are for receiving the care and compensation you deserve. Call our office at 833-529-5677 or contact us online (WhislerLawFirm.com) to schedule a free consultation today.
– Josh Whisler