Vaccines, or immunizations, are an important part of family and public health. Vaccines prevent the spread of dangerous or deadly diseases like measles, smallpox and polio, and most of the time, they are administered without any problems. However, like any medication, vaccines carry a potential risk of side effects, some of which are extremely serious. If you, your child or someone else in your family has suffered an adverse reaction or side effect allegedly caused by a vaccine, our personal injury lawyers can help. We know how devastating vaccine injuries can be for victims and their loved ones and we believe in fighting for victims’ right to compensation. Consult our legal team today to find out how we can help you in your vaccine injury case.
What are Vaccines?
Vaccines are designed to build up the body’s natural immunity to a disease and prevent the disease from occurring. There are different kinds of vaccines that work in different ways, but for the most part, they contain a weakened form of a specific disease germ. The disease germ is injected into the body and the body produces antibodies to fight the invading germs, known as antigens. Once you have these antibodies, they stay in your body for a long time, some for the rest of your life, so if you are ever exposed to the disease, your body will be able to fight it off without you getting sick.
Who Gets Vaccines?
Vaccines are recommended for everyone – infants, children, teens and adults – although most vaccines are administered to children. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children receive 50 doses of more than a dozen different vaccines before their sixth birthday. These vaccines include the following:
- Hepatitis B
- Diphtheria, tetanus & acellular pertussis
- Haemophilus influenzae type b
- Pneumococcal conjugate
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- Measles, mumps, rubella
- Hepatitis A
- Tetanus, diphtheria, & acellular pertussis
- Human papillomavirus
- Meningococcal B
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide
Each of these vaccines is designed to combat certain diseases, and while they may be successful in helping some people avoid getting sick, they can create serious health problems for others. In 2016, more than 48,000 Americans reported adverse side effects and reactions from vaccinations to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
Potential Vaccine Injuries
For many people, the benefits of vaccines outweigh the potential risks. However, there have been serious concerns about the potential risk of injuries from vaccines and fears about vaccine side effects are on the rise. Some vaccine injuries are mild, like redness or swelling at the injection site, while others can be more severe, like brain damage, permanent disability, paralysis or death. Some common injuries and reactions that have been linked to vaccines include the following:
- Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA)
- Bell’s palsy
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Transverse Myelitis (TM)
Other possible vaccine-related injuries and reactions may include:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
- Brachial neuritis
- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIPD)
- Disseminated Varicella vaccine-strain viral disease
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
- Optic neuritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
Many of these vaccine injuries and reactions are long-lasting or potentially life-threatening and the unfortunate truth is that many people don’t realize that these side effects are a possibility. Those who do realize that vaccines come with risks are increasingly opting out of their children’s scheduled shots. In a 2018 study on the state of the anti-vaccine movement in the United States, researchers wrote that “Due to parental concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy, many families choose to opt out their children from vaccinations required for school entry by obtaining nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) based on religious or philosophical beliefs.”
Pursuing Compensation for Vaccine Injuries
Whether your vaccine side effects are mild or severe, you deserve to be fairly compensated for any related losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma, or the need for long-term medical care. For most medications – actually, for every type of medication other than vaccines – the manufacturing company can be held liable for any harm or losses caused by its products through a product liability lawsuit. Vaccines, like other medications, are produced by pharmaceutical companies, but because of a little-known, decades-old deal, a government program pays compensation to injured victims, not the company that makes the vaccine. If you believe you have a vaccine injury case, we recommend hiring a knowledgeable attorney to represent you so you can improve your chances of winning your case.
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
As part of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, Congress established the federal National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The purpose of the program was to provide compensation for victims of certain covered vaccine injuries, to offset the cost of medical bills, lost wages and other losses arising from a vaccine-related injury. The program was created in response to civil lawsuits filed against vaccine manufacturers and healthcare providers and was meant as a no-fault alternative to pursuing compensation through the traditional legal system. Under the Act, anyone can file for vaccine injury compensation, so long as the effects of the vaccine injury:
- Lasted for more than six months after the vaccination,
- Resulted in inpatient hospitalization and surgical intervention, or
- Resulted in death.
In order to pursue compensation through the VICP, you must retain an attorney and file a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Since 1988, more than 20,000 petitions have been filed with the VICP and the court has awarded more than $4 billion to individuals who have suffered adverse reactions or died because of vaccines. Of that $4 billion, approximately $1 billion was paid out over the last five years alone.
Our Reputable Vaccine Injury Attorneys Can Help
While victims of vaccine injuries can file a petition for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will receive compensation. In fact, reports indicate that two-thirds of petitioners who apply for compensation through the program are denied while others are forced to wait years, some more than a decade, for a decision from the court. Additionally, in a 2014 review of the VICP, it was reported that families caring for permanently disabled children were receiving inadequate compensation from the program. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries from a vaccine, the best way to ensure that you receive the compensation you and your family deserve is to hire an attorney to represent you. Our knowledgeable attorneys have years of experience helping clients fight for their right to compensation and we can help you, too. There is a statute of limitations on vaccine injury claims, so don’t wait to call.