In the vast majority of cases, vaccines work well at preventing disease and do not cause harmful side effects. Unfortunately, however, vaccines are not perfect, and some people suffer serious harm after they are administered. In fact, some people may have paralyzing or even fatal reactions to immunizations. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is in place to both inform the public and help to compensate those who've been harmed by immunization shots.
The VICP was created in the late 80s to solve a serious problem. While most people could recognize the benefits of childhood vaccinations, there was concern about rare cases of adverse effects of immunization. Vaccine manufacturers faced lawsuits when their vaccines were implicated in medical problems. As a result, some manufacturers were becoming wary of continuing to produce immunization medicines because of the risk of lawsuits that could cause them to pay hefty settlements to the families of injured children. The VICP was created to provide people with an alternative to traditional lawsuits, compensation for families that doesn't come from manufacturers, and some relief for the companies that produce vaccines.
The creation of the VICP didn't take away a person's right to sue a vaccine company in court. Instead, it gives people the option to seek a no-fault means of compensation. This program is funded by the federal government, which means injured parties can obtain compensation for their injuries from the government instead of going after the vaccine producers.
The United States Court of Federal Claims is charged with deciding who will get compensation as the result of problems caused by vaccines. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has an online table that lists vaccines that are a part of the VICP as well as a list of potential complications for which a person may seek compensation. Sometimes, a person may have a reaction to a vaccine that is not listed on the table. In such a case, the person or his family would have to prove that a vaccine caused his condition.
In order to receive compensation through VICP, a person must demonstrate that the harm he suffered happened within the time frame listed on the table. For example, if a person has anaphylactic shock within four hours of getting a tetanus shot, there’s a good chance he’s eligible for compensation. A person may also gain compensation by proving that a vaccine aggravated a preexisting condition. There are deadlines for filing claims; people must file claims within three years of injury resulting from a vaccine. A person can file a claim on behalf of a deceased party for up to two years following a fatal vaccination, as long as the claim is filed within four years of the time the deceased experienced the first vaccine-related symptom.