Americans who suffer adverse reactions to coronavirus vaccines that the U.S. is rushing to develop will have a hard time getting compensation, according to a Bloomberg News report. Those injured by using the vaccine will be routed to a rarely used federal program that exempts the manufacturers of the vaccine from liability in lawsuits brought against them. However, it creates a taxpayer-funded compensation scheme for the victims of these injuries.
That said, there is no guarantee that the program will be fully funded. Since its founding in 2009, the program has paid out less than $6 million. As of this post, the federal government has not added any money to the fund dedicated to a COVID-19 vaccine.
No vaccine or drug is 100% safe. Many adverse reactions or side effects are not discovered during trials. Vaccines are designed to trigger the immune system into fighting off diseases. In rare instances, they can result in severe allergic reactions or even paralysis. Assuming a mass inoculation in the United States involving the entire population, that could result in millions of people suffering severe reactions.
The overall perception is that, if someone gets vaccinated, he or she is providing a benefit to society as a whole. As a result, society should have a compensation scheme to assist those who are injured. This is not a controversial opinion. However, an underfunded or unfunded program could lead to disastrous results. Victims could wait years to get any kind of compensation at all, let alone fair compensation.
There is a “Vaccine Court.” It is called the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It is funded through an excise tax on every vaccine. However, the source of funding is limited to vaccines given to children and pregnant women, as well as the seasonal flu vaccine. The court started in the 1980’s as a reaction to drug manufacturers threatening to stop distributing the DPT (Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus) vaccine. Over the years, it has paid billions of dollars to victims of adverse reactions.
There is a “countermeasures” program that began in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. It allows for compensation for people injured by drugs created in response to pandemics and national security events, such as biological or radiation attacks. Unlike “Vaccine Court,” the countermeasures program puts a higher financial burden on applicants, and doesn’t allow for experts, hearings, or appeals. Vaccine Court will also pay for a victim’s lawyer, while the countermeasures program won’t.
Given the overall lack of a plan to fight to coronavirus, it appears that, once vaccinations begin, we will not be prepared to compensate those who are injured-sometimes permanently-as a result of taking the vaccine.
The Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Marion handles all sorts of dangerous drug cases. If you have been permanently injured by a dangerous drug, please call or e-mail us.